2 February, 2016, 12:00 am
THE National Federation Party will know today if it can still be part of next week’s first Parliament sitting for this year following its suspension as a political party yesterday.
Party leader Professor Biman Prasad, president Tupou Draunidalo and member Prem Singh, who are members of the Opposition, need to know how they are impacted by the suspension, and whether they could miss out on any Parliament sitting for the next 30 days. The party has been suspended for failing to abide by the Political Parties Decree 2013, which means it cannot operate as a political party within the given timeframe.
“We are still taking legal advice on the issue,” Prof Prasad said yesterday.
However, according to legal sources the Political Parties Decree allows a member of Parliament belonging to a suspended political party to remain an MP.
In a notice sent to party members an hour after the NFP was scheduled to hold a press conference, Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem told the NFP that it had been suspended under section 19 (3) of the decree.
Mr Saneem said the Fiji Institute of Accountants highlighted to the Fijian Elections Office on December 16 last year NFP’s accounts had been audited by an auditing firm (APRN Partners), which was not registered with the institute.
Mr Saneem said the auditing firm did not hold a valid certificate of public practice (CPP) under section 22 of the Fiji Institute of Accountants Act.
Mr Saneem said his office had inquired with APRN Partners and established that the firm “is not a member of CPP (Fiji)”.
“In light of the above, I find that the NFP audited accounts for the period 2013-2014 are not in compliance with section 26(2) of the Decree.
“The documents submitted fail to meet the requisite legal standard and therefore I find the NFP is in breach of the (Political Parties) Decree,” Mr Saneem stated in the letter.
Speaking to The Fiji Times, Prof Prasad said the party was seeking legal advice on the suspension.
“We cannot operate as a political party, but I can talk on the suspension which means we have been given 30 days to comply with this so-called breach of the Political Parties Decree.
“We should be able to say more once we talk with our legal experts as well as from the accounting firm that did our audits,” Prof Prasad said.