Suspended Nauru MP Calls Government A ‘Dictatorship’

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Parliament shut down whenever debate doesn’t go President’s way

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Dec. 22, 2014) – A Nauru opposition MP has described the island as a dictatorship, after the country's Supreme Court upheld the suspension of five MPs for speaking to foreign media.

The MPs were suspended earlier this year, accused of bringing the country into international disrepute or "behaving in an unruly manner".

It followed comments regarding the government's treatment of the former chief justice, Australian Geoffrey Eames, who had his visa revoked in January and resigned in March.

One of the suspended MPs, Roland Kun, said the ruling by the new chief justice "will further entrench the current dictatorship".

"That is exactly what is happening on the island," Mr Kun said.

"When the current government first came into power the first thing they did was to ban the Nauru media from speaking to us, either on radio or on television.

"There are rarely any parliament sittings and where there [are] parliament sittings if government doesn't like the way that parliament is progressing, in that they don't like the questions that are being posted, they use their numbers to shut down parliament sittings."

In May, Mathew Batsiua, Kieran Keke and Mr Kun were suspended from the 19-member legislature.

In early June, two more opposition members - Squire Jeremiah and former president Sprent Dabwido - were also suspended.

Chief Justice Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi upheld their suspensions, ruling the court did not have jurisdiction to reverse parliament's decision, because of parliamentary privilege.

But Mr Kun said parliamentary privileges should not apply to the comments.

"What we're being taken to task [over] is something that happened outside parliament, which is expressing our views to the media," he said.

"Furthermore, the Supreme Court of Nauru has sole jurisdiction over constitutional questions, and to us, what we're putting in front of the Supreme Court are constitutional questions and they do have jurisdiction.

"But obviously they think differently."

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