Former Kiribati president questions appointment of acting CJ

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The appointment of Kiribati’s Attorney General Tetiro Semilota as the acting Chief Justice has been called a questionable act by the country’s first president, Sir Ieremia Tabai.

A current opposition MP, Ieremia said the government has appointed from within its own ranks and picking Semilota as Chief Justice should not have happened.

He said Semilota has been compromised by being a party to the government’s attempts over the past several months to get rid of the overseas judges working in Kiribati.

The government had suspended Bill Hastings as Chief Justice because it was unhappy with his dismissal of its attempts to remove High Court judge David Lambourne.

He said the post of Chief Justice was never advertised.

“Normally any appointment of the government, particularly to the judiciary, is always advertised, either locally or overseas. In this case, there was no advertisement, leaving the government to make its own choice. Which I think is a questionable act.”

He said the government’s meddling in the judiciary is all about trying to destabilise the opposition.

Tabai said the government’s moves began when it tried to remove High Court Judge, David Lambourne, and Tabai said that is only because he is married to the opposition leader, Tessie Lambourne.

“The whole controversy is because of the fact that David is the husband of the leader of the opposition. That is the reason we are in this mess.”

Tabai said the opposition may make another attempt to remove the government, in a vote of no confidence, when parliament sits early next month.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS