NEWS

Speaker: Stop Race Talk. Keep Stability

Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni says any attempt to prevent  a future coup and political instability must start in Parliament. In a one on one interview yesterday, Dr Luveni
19 Sep 2017 10:00
Speaker: Stop Race Talk. Keep Stability
The Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni

Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni says any attempt to prevent  a future coup and political instability must start in Parliament.

In a one on one interview yesterday, Dr Luveni says irresponsible and racist remarks must stop because they could incite people to react in a negative way.

Her comments coincide with renewed interests in the events before and after the 2000 coup. The coup triggered a spate of violence in parts of the country by anti-Indo-Fijian supporters of the coup. National Federation Party MP Parmod Chand had ignited a heated exchange by blaming Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Republic of Fiji Military Forces for the coup. Mr Bainimarama and the RFMF have hit back at Mr Chand saying if it wasn’t for the RFMF in crushing the rebellion, Mr Chand would not have the freedom to be speaking in Parliament. Indo-Fijian victims of the coup have also spoken out in support of Mr Bainimarama and the RFMF.

Dr Luveni rejected claims that the environment in Parliament was too restrictive and prevented robust debates when compared to previous parliamentary sessions.

In the past parliament sessions, MPs could attack and vilify others under the cover of parliamentary privileges.

Some claim that was real democracy when MPs had the freedom to express themselves

“That’s exactly my point. It led to coups and political instability in the past,” she said.

Dr Luveni said “democracy comes with responsibility.” “Democracy must have accountability.” What MPs said would have an impact on people they served. The people’s reaction could mushroom into something bigger like a coup.

She said “we have gone through instability” because of the things that had been said.

“One thing that the people must understand is that this Government’s top priority is to stop any more political instability and coup,” she said.  “When they came on board they addressed the root causes of this instability.”

She said it had been identified that racist policies had been decisive and had led to political instability.

Race and religion, she said, had been used in politics.

“When we want to have a stable Government and remove this root cause of instability it starts from Parliament,” she said.

Dr Luveni said this was why the Standing Orders of Parliament contained conditions that would stop MPs making statements in Parliament that incite racial hatred and cause instability.

“It has to start from Parliament. If there are members that continue to make racist or offensive religious statements, Parliament has to see that it is stopped.”

The issues are referred to the Privileges Committee which would recommend the action that needed to be taken. Parliament would then vote for it. It is the same process that led to the suspension of SODELPA Opposition members Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and Ratu Isoa Tikoca plus Roko Tupou Draunidalo when she was in the National Federation Party.

Edited by Mohammed Ali

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