– FijiFirst General Secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has spoken out for the first time after the result of the election was made public on Sunday – clarifying that Voreqe Bainimarama and his cabinet remain in government until a new Prime Minister is elected in Parliament.
Khaiyum said there is no other Prime Minister until an election in Parliament, when the President Summons Parliament to convene no later than 14 days after the return of the writ of election.
The chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mukesh Chand returned the writ to President HE Ratu Wiliame Katonivere on Monday this week. This means that the President is expected to convene Parliament on 02 January 2023.
Since no political party has received more than 50% of the total number of seats in Parliament, Section 93 (3) of the Constitution kicks in which requires that at the first sitting of Parliament, the Speaker will call for nominations from elected members and if one member is nominated and seconded, that person assumes the office of Prime Minister after he takes the oath of affirmation before the President, explained Khaiyum.
But if there is more than one person nominated and seconded, the Speaker must conduct a secret ballot and if after the first vote the person gets the support of more than 50% of the Members, then that person becomes Prime Minister after taking the oath of office.
Section 93 (3)(b) then adds that if after the first vote, no person is nominated, then a second vote is taken within 24 hours the person. The same repeat for the second and third vote – and if no one gets the 50% majority then, Section 93 (3)(d) dictates that the Speaker notifies the President in writing of the inability of Parliament to appoint a Prime Minister and the President shall within 24 hours’ dissolve Parliament and issues a writ of general election to take, in accordance with the Constitution.
He was clarifying the legal position of the appointment of the Prime Minister on the floor of Parliament – opposing the letter written by the joint coalition of Peoples Alliance (PA), National Federation Party (NFP) and Social Democratic Party (SODELPA) requesting the President to convene Parliament at the earliest convenient time, ‘with Sitiveni Rabuka as Prime Minister.’
Khaiyum also confirmed that FijiFirst confirmed receiving letter from Lenaitasi Duru of SODELPA confirming that agreement reached between the coalition partner was null and void.
He said FijiFirst awaits the SODELPA Party process to reconvene the Management Board.
“We will await that happy to re-negotiate with SODELPA, said Khaiyum.
Meanwhile, internal bickering reared its ugly head again as SODELPA, the party with the balance of power, in the coalition with the People’s Alliance and National Federation Party, is now claiming the vote by its Management Board Tuesday was unconstitutional.
Lenaitasi Duru, who resigned immediately after the Board Meeting and claims he’s still party General Secretary told journalists that he remains the party executive.
Duru claims that two members who voted were not supposed to be part of the meeting because they were non- elected members.
“I’m the General Secretary, and I’m the authorised officer of the party, I take control of the regulations and compliance issues. I saw something that was not in order and it was upon me to act.
“There was a point of contention in one or two of the people attending and I advised the board that it was not in compliance and contradicts our constitution. The board decided to allow them in and therefore opened up a can of worms,” he told journalists in Suva.
Duri also confirmed that he also sought legal advice from private lawyers including Supervisor of Election Mohammed Saneem about the meeting.
He said the board needs to reconvene to address the anomaly.
“We are going to reconvene. And this time, we’re going to make sure that we have tight security. The point is only those that are in compliance with get into vote. There are certain regulations, that guide who sits on the board so were are going to make sure that they meet those criteria,” said Duru.
Duru claims the coalition reached on Tuesday night was null and void.
He said 22 was the quorum and 30 were in attendance with four non-compliant members.
Duru said that he raised these concerns during the meeting but his concerns were disregarded.
“I was disappointed the way the management board didn’t listen to my advice as the General Secretary and authorised officer of the party.
But lead negotiator for SODELPA, Anare Jale disputed Duru’s version of what transpired stating the meeting was done legally and the country is moving forward.
“The decision yesterday is final. It was properly conducted. So if somebody’s saying that it wasn’t done, properly, illegally. That person has to prove it.
“Those people in the meeting were confirmed representatives, verified by himself. Everything was legal. He was the one that verified the quorum was legal and those that attended.
“He just said that the Management Board has all the authority to make a decision whether they should sit in the meeting or not,” said Jale.
The country’s Fiji Trades Union Congress (FTUC) has welcomed the election of the People’s Alliance Party (PAP), the National Federation Party (NFP) and the SODELPA Coalition Government.
“This is democracy in action, and we look forward to the restoration of all human rights including workers’ rights in Fiji. This has been the cry of workers over the years. We are eager to work closely with the new Government for the betterment of workers in Fiji.
“Much needs to be done including the repeal of draconian laws such as the Public Order (Amendment) Decree that denies people their basic human rights. Labour law review that has been collecting dust with the past Government needs to be given priority. This and many other laws need to be reviewed and the new Government has its plate full and overflowing. The FTUC is ready to play its part through the Tripartite structures that needs to be revived,” said FTUC National Secretary Felix Anthony.
“We recognise that much has to be done and the cry of the people have never been louder for freedoms and rights. We believe that democracy is not only about elections but also about people participation in Government and governance. This has been absent over the last 16 years. People must feel free and not be intimidated for exercising their rights. More recently the spate of arrest and detention by FICAC and the Police has been very disturbing and intimidating. This must stop. Fiji cannot continue to behave like a police state where people are persecuted simply because they disagree with Government. We call on the authorities to act in a reasonable manner consistent with the principles of democracy”
“The FTUC congratulates all elected members of the Parliament and looks forward to constructive debates on Bills that will come before Parliament. We urge consultation with the people on Bills that may have great impact on people which has been absent from the last Parliament. Sufficient time must be given for debates, and we call on the new Parliament to review the Standing Orders to avoid abuse of Section 51 to scuttle debate. We the workers want to see real democracy in action.
Despite all the glitches during the counting of votes, the voters have decided, and we urge everyone to accept the results and get Fiji moving forward again.
We call upon his Excellency the President to summon Parliament and give the people the Government that they have chosen without delay” Anthony said.