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Court orders Lusibaea out of government

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 18, 2011) – The office of the Solomon Island’s Governor General has accepted yesterday’s High Court ruling regarding North Malaita Member of Parliament Jimmy Lusibaea.

Lusibaea lost his seat after the High Court heard a legal challenge regarding his continued presence in parliament

He had been initially ousted because of an assault conviction but when his sentence was reduced below six months he was able to continue as a member of parliament.

The deputy private secretary to the Governor General, Rockliff Ziza, says before the court decision, the Prime Minister had instructed the Governor General to appoint Lusibaea as Minister of Fisheries but the decision means that won’t happen now.

But Ziza doesn’t believe this will spell the end of Lusibaea’s political career.

"I don’t think so," Ziza responded. "He still has the opportunity to contest the elections again, maybe in 2014 or it might be during the by-election. But subject to any other qualifications maybe advice from the Attorney General’s office would be the appropriate judge whether or not he can run for the by-election."

Rockliffe Ziza says the by-election for the North Malaita seat will be held next year.

[PIR editor's note: The initial remission of sentencing granted to Lusibaea was found not to reduce or overrule the conviction, and the court "concluded that the Speaker of Parliament was wrong to say that [the decision]... reduced the sentence imposed by the High Court." Opposition member Mathew Wale, who lodged the suit against Lusibaea, says "the Speaker of Parliament should have relied only on the sentence the Court had imposed."]

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