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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 29) – Ousted Fiji Opposition Leader Mick Beddoes says the position is still valid. He said although all ministers of the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua government received termination letters, his appointment as Leader of the Opposition by the President was never terminated following the events of December 5, 2006.

"Therefore, if, as is being suggested, the Fiji Constitution remains in force, then technically I am still the Leader of the Opposition and will remain so until we conclude the next General Elections and a new prime minister is appointed consequently the validity of the appointments referred to is questionable," Mr Beddoes said.

Mr Beddoes said while the authorities had stopped paying his salary, removed his transportation, shut down his offices, terminated his staff and hindered his ability to function, Section 82 (5) of the Constitution states 'Upon expiry or dissolution of the House, the Leader of the Opposition continues in office until the next appointment of a prime minister.' He said he had no comment over the suitability or impartiality of individuals selected for various positions except that if the provisions of the Constitution were followed correctly, the Leader of the Opposition would have had to be consulted on the appointments of the membership of the Boundaries Commission as provided for in Section 76 (3) and (4) as well as on the appointments of the membership of the Electoral Commission as required in section 78 (8).

Interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said he believed Mr Beddoes was fundamentally a patriotic person and what Fiji required was nation building and an appreciation of the realities.

"Suffice to say, there currently exists no parliament, nor for that matter a functioning Leader of Opposition office. These realities as documented in the EU consultations outcome acknowledge that certain issues can only be effectively addressed through a pragmatic approach which acknowledges the reality of the present and which focuses on the future. Therefore, what Mr Beddoes should be doing is focusing on the future and recognise the various mechanism that are being put in place to facilitate the eventual holding of free, fair and transparent elections."

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