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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 14, 1999 – Fiji Broadcasting Corporation)---The Suva High Court has ruled that Adi Kuini Speed is the rightful leader of the Fijian Association Party and that an executive meeting held last month to oust her was illegal.

In his ruling today, Justice John Byrne also decided Adi Kuini's list of nominees for the Senate are valid.

The two factions of the Fijian Association Party, one led by Adi Kuini and the second by Ratu Tu‘akitau Cokanauto, her rival and close relative, have eagerly awaited Judge Byrne’s ruling.

Byrne said that the party's constitution amended in 1998 is the one the party should use.

He ruled that Adi Kuini and Jose Gucci remain party leader and general secretary respectively.

Byrne said that the meeting, which elected Ratu Tu‘akitau leader on September 11, was illegal and that it was a breach of paragraph 3 of the party's constitution, which meant that Adi Kuini's nominees to the Senate are the valid ones.

He said that the party's amended constitution requires further amendments to prevent such circumstances similar to this case in which only the party leader decides nominations to the Senate.

Judge Byrne suggested that the responsibility for choosing senators are given to the party president, leader, deputy leader, vice president, secretary, treasurer, and the assistant secretary.

He has stressed the importance of consultation between the party leader and those suggested.

The lack of adequate consultation was the main sticking point behind the Ratu Tu‘akitu led faction's rejection of Adi Kuini's list of nominees.

Meanwhile, Adi Kuini Speed told Radio Fiji News that she is not surprised with the decision by the Suva High Court.

Adi Kuini said the faction of the FAP led by Parliamentarian Ratu Tu‘akitau Cokanauto, is still welcome to re-join the party.

But she said they will face disciplinary action.

"We'll have to look at our constitutional disciplinary procedures because one has to abide by these rules. Otherwise, if we don't do anything, then, if somebody commits something like that, we will not be able to do anything because we have not acted on this.

"So it's important that we look at whatever guidelines we have on disciplinary action to take on such matters," she said.

For additional reports from The Fiji Broadcasting Commission, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Sources/Fiji Live.

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