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Hateful style of politics must end: Fiji President Konrote

“I am here today (Monday) to tell you that fear mongering, communalism and the hateful style of politics must end this very moment.”

This was told to Members of Parliament by  Fiji President Jioji Konrote during the opening of the Parliament Monday.

Konrote said those backward ways of thinking had no place in Fiji’s august House.

“All of you have sworn solemn oath or affirm your allegiance to defend our democracy, you have sworn to protect our Constitution – the very document that allowed you to come into this Parliament and grant you the privilege of speaking on behalf of our citizens,” Konrote said.

He also reminded the newly-sworn in MPs that State’s established institutions were independent.

Konrote said he knew that some MPs had been subjected to scrutiny by Fiji’s judiciary and those matters were only for the courts and not for Parliament.

“We can never tolerate any effort from any in this room or from any Fijian to undermine the very foundation of our democracy by attacking our institution of State.

“We particularly cannot summon binded by our emotion into unfounded assaults into any of the institutions simply because we do not agree with an action they have taken.

“If the court does not rule in your favour that does not mean our courts are not independent. It simply means your case carried insufficient merit. “While you are free to then pursue any legal means at your disposal, that doesn’t give you a pass to then subvert the system that delivers justice in this country,” he added.

The 51 Government and Opposition Members of Parliament are expected to deliver their responses to President Jioji Konrote’s opening speech in Parliament this week.

This was confirmed by Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni after the swearing in of the MPs in Parliament. 

“My only advise to them (MPs) is to prepare themselves for robust and healthy debates on national issues.

“I’ve seen some good MPs, both from Government and Opposition. This I believe will make Parliament proceedings more interesting. There are very high qualified MPs in the House,” she said.

Dr Luveni said she would ensure that Parliament was managed in a manner that was democratic and provided MPs with the platform to speak freely on issues.

She said the appointment of Government Member of Parliament Veena Bhatnagar as the Deputy Speaker was in accordance with the rules and procedures of Parliament.

Dr Luveni made the clarification in Parliament after Social Democratic Liberal Party MP Niko Nawaikula questioned Bhatnagar’s appointment, who was also the Assistant Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation.

Dr Luveni said the appointment was in line with the Standing Orders of Parliament.

According to Standing Order 19 (3), she said any member may propose an ordinary member as Deputy Speaker prior to the person’s consent. Dr Luveni said the Standing Order also provided that an ordinary member was a member not holding the office of a Minister, Leader of Opposition, Leader of the Government to Parliament or Whip.

“I believe that Honourable Bhatnagar doesn’t hold any of these positions and therefore, in accordance with the rules and procedures of Parliament, I will allow the nomination of Honourable Bhatnagar as Deputy Speaker,” she said.

Speaking outside Parliament, Bhatnagar said she was honoured to be appointed as deputy Speaker.

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