Opposition SODELPA MPs will be back in Parliament this morning after they walked out yesterday. The walkout was in protest over a motion on amendments to the Standing Orders which
12 Feb 2016 13:33
SODELPA member and opposition leader of parliament,Ro Teimumu Kepa (middle) talks to the Fiji Sun journalist Aqela Susu (right) and leaves government buildings after they walked out of the parliament yesterday. pic......RAMA

Opposition SODELPA MPs will be back in Parliament this morning after they walked out yesterday.

The walkout was in protest over a motion on amendments to the Standing Orders which Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa described “as a design to shut down democracy.”

But Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said: “This is the continuing story of their walkout. They’re confused about their job in Parliament.”

The motion was passed.

Lawyer and MP Mosese Bulitavu said after the walkout: “Yes, we will be back tomorrow (today). We can’t miss the Friday sitting because it’s our day and we have questions to ask.”

Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca who called for the walkout after he attacked the amendments told the Speaker, Dr Jiko Luveni, said: “The Government continues to use this tactic to impose their dictatorial ways even at your cost. They are using your office Madam Speaker.”

Ratu Isoa said this was an act to remove the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee.

“We will not be part of this fuss. This is not democratic anymore. I will now request members of my party for us to withdraw.”

Then he picked his files and left the chamber followed by MPs. Ro Teimumu was the last to leave. Their earlier attempts to get Dr Luveni to throw out the motion failed.

Semesa Karavaki argued that changes should have come from the Business Committee. But Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the motion was brought to the attention of the Business Committee.

He said according to the Constitution “Parliament may make Standing Orders and rules for the order and conduct of business and proceedings in Parliament and its committees and for the way in which its powers, privileges and immunities may be exercised and upheld. This is why the Government has taken the initiative of bringing these amendments to Parliament.”

The amendment that sparked angry reactions from Opposition MPs was the Amendment to Standing Orders 117-Chairperson of Standing Committees.

Ratu Isoa accused Government of using the ploy to get rid of National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad as chairperson of PAC. Previously, an Opposition nominee was elected the chairperson. But the amendment says it’s up to the committee to pick the chairperson. The Government majority in all the committees give it the advantage to choose the chairperson.

The amendment says: “At the first meeting of each standing committee, the members must elect a chairperson and a deputy chairperson from amongst themselves

“If the chairperson or deputy chairperson is for any reason no longer available to perform the functions of chairperson or deputy

chairperson, the person must elect another member from amongst themselves as a chairperson/deputy chairperson.

“The members may at any meeting of the standing committee by majority vote replaces a chairperson or a deputy chairperson and elect another member from amongst themselves as a chairperson or a deputy chairperson, provided however that a chairperson/deputy chair person can only be replaced under this clause after he or she has served as chairperson or deputy chairperson for at least 12 months during the four-year term of Parliament.”




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