14 Dec 2018

Fiji's Attorney General denies avoiding election challenge

5:24 pm on 14 December 2018

Fiji's Attorney-General has denied claims that government MPs hid to avoid being served with legal papers questioning November's election result.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told local media he was holding meetings with cabinet ministers.

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Photo: SUPPLIED

Opposition parties said they had been prevented from serving the documents in person, as required, after not being allowed into an office building in Suva, where government MPs appeared to be hiding.

Some government MPs were escorted from the building by bodyguards and assistants were also seen carrying out bedding and suitcases.

Dismissing claims that the MPs were being evasive, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the government MPs were simply having an extended two day strategy meeting.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama and another cabinet minister were away in Poland at the international climate meeting.

In the end, the Court of Disputed Returns allowed the opposition to advertise their petition in Fiji's daily newspapers.

The Elections Office said in the interests of justice the election materials will remain under police guard until the courts have resolved the matter.

The leader of the National Federation Party, Biman Prasad, is one of several petitioners from the opposition who are questioning the outcome of November's general election.

He said the government's behaviour was sad and demonstrated a lack of accountability.

"We can all have a good laugh at that but it is a serious matter," he said.

"We feel that the government and the Attorney General, the government led by him as Acting Prime Minister right now, have shown utter contempt for the people of Fiji. Because they deliberately ensured that we are not able to serve the petition on them."

Meanwhile, the Fijian Elections Office said it had received the challenges and is working with the Solicitor General to prepare its legal response.

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