22 Aug 2018

Kiribati Speaker stymies efforts to remove him

9:32 am on 22 August 2018

The Kiribati opposition party, the BTK, says it's stunned the Speaker of Parliament has declared a motion of no confidence in him to be out of order.

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Photo: RNZ

The party said Speaker Tebuai Uaai claimed parliament was not the right place to debate such a motion.

The opposition is trying to confront Mr Uaai with a series of allegations about his behaviour when he led a Kiribati delegation to an international conference in Pohnpei in June.

The opposition leader, Titabu Tabane said the allegations, based on information from witnesses and one of the opposition's own MPs, included being abusive towards women and drinking excessively.

"It is more or less correct to say he was under the influence. He was acting OK but you could see his eyes red and that," Mr Tabane said.

"What I am saying is he was acting beyond the position he [should] as the Speaker, by engaging in what we believe amounted to sexual harassment."

The opposition had drafted two motions.

The first was ruled out by the Speaker for lacking details but the opposition said it included information claiming the Speaker had "misbehaved" at an international meeting in Pohnpei.

The second draft claimed the Speaker had sexually harassed parliamentary staff and an air hostess while drunk.

It was obvious the Speaker, who is appointed to parliament, did not want the motion to reach the floor of parliament but it was for MPs to decide if it was in order or not, the opposition said.