Fiji Opposition Welcomes Court Ruling On Candidate Eligibility

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SODELPA Leader: ‘What was the point of it?’

By Reginald Chandar

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 9, 2015) – Opposition and SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa today welcomed the High Court’s ruling on Member of Parliament Mikaele Leawere’s eligibility as a candidate for the position left vacant after the death of Ratu Viliame Tagivetaua.

She however was perplexed about the need for it to have occurred in the first place saying: "What was the point of it? But I thank God for his guiding hand and our Defense team," she said.

[PIR editor’s note: Fijilive reported that ‘The case against Opposition Member of Parliament, Mikaele Leawere was all about clarifying the law and it was not about any particular person, candidate or party, says Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. … He said even if the High Court had ruled in favour of his petition, the next candidate to fill the vacancy in Parliament following the death of Ratu Viliame Tagivetaua would have been from SODELPA. … The High Court, sitting as the Court of Disputed Returns late yesterday ruled against the Attorney-General’s petition which had argued that any candidate who, after the elections, holds a public office is no longer eligible as a candidate for him or her to be considered as a Member of Parliament.’ RNZI reported that ‘Ro Teimumu Kepa says it's bizzare that the Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, who's Government introduced the Electoral Decree and the Constitution, needed to "test the law". ... Ro Teimumu Kepa says Mr Sayed Khaiyum is not the only one confused about his own laws. ... "I think it's very difficult sometimes for him to understand his own legislation, the constitution that they authored and before that the decrees which we all had to abide by. If he has some conflict with it, you could imagine how other people would maybe have conflict but it was very clear cut for us, that there was really no issue there."’]

"I am also happy for Hon. Leawere and his family and glad that the stressful time they have had to endure during this case has come to an end and I look forward to his contribution in the many debates that lay ahead."

Ro Teimumu said that now that the case has been dispensed with, and comment on it possible, she would like to know what the point was in taking the matter to court.

"After all the outcome had it gone against us, would not have resulted in a ‘bi-election’ that Fiji First might have felt would increase their seat numbers in the house, the seat would have remained with SODELPA and gone to the next in line in our team."

"A lot of time, money and resources were spent on this matter, and it is my view that while any challenge to any of our members is a matter of concern to us, this case raises more questions than it provides answers."

Ro Teimumu added that she will make a full statement once she gets an opportunity to read the full judgment.

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