A-G labels walkout ‘silly’

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum addresses the media at Parliament after the re-appointment of President Jioji Konrote yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

ATTORNEY General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has labelled the walkout by Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) members of Parliament during the appointment of the President in Parliament yesterday as “silly”.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had nominated President Jioji Konrote’s name before Parliament which was unanimously agreed upon by Members of Parliament.

Leader of Opposition Ro Teimumu Kepa with other SODELPA members walked out of Parliament after raising concerns about the legality of the appointment of the President.

“I think it is quite silly, they had couple of arguments, one of them was of course we cannot appoint anybody before their term expires,” said Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.

He said the walkout should have been done in a more decorum.

“It is such a pity because this is the reappointment of the head of state. It is very worrying that you have this type of very pedestrian interpretation of the law.”

Ro Teimumu said they believed that the proposed appointment was illegal and may affect any major decisions such as the coming general election.

She said important issues such as this should have been referred to the Supreme Court of Fiji for interpretation.

“There is a danger that when this President issues the Writ of Elections, it can be challenged as illegal as he was not appointed in accordance with the Constitution. The repercussions for the country can be enormous,” she said.

The party had also expressed concern from the outset at the manner the process was handled, in that they were notified to nominate their nominee within 48 hours.

Ro Teimumu said they had a nominee, but wished not to reveal the name. Opposition MP Semesa Karavaki, who stood on a point of order, said there was no vacancy for the President’s position.

“We should not be in this position to come in and to put into process the appointment of a President when the vacancy has not being released yet. The issue here is whether we appoint the President according to the Constitution.”

In her ruling, Speaker Dr Jiko Luveni said the issue tabled at the Business Committee did not require any discussion, nor deliberation because it was not a motion but rather a nomination business.

Dr Luveni said given that the parties were preparing for the election in which the President would play a prominent role, they could not have a vacancy existing before the elections.

She said the reference to the 48 hours nomination period was a non-issue.

“I therefore rule that the provision of the Constitution of the standing order have been complied with accordingly and therefore, the powers of the business committee have not been reserved in anyway.

“The business committee was informed of this special sitting to appoint the President and also that there will be no other Parliament business on the day, they were further informed that with the concurrent of the Speaker who is also the chairperson of the Business Committee, there was no need to meet as the process of the appointment of the President was clearly outlined in Section 84(2) of the Constitution and Standing Order 136.”

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