MP Draunidalo was suspended based on the recommendation of the Committee, which reported contravention of Standing Order 62 (4) (a) and (d). NGOCHR Chair, Tara Chetty said the Coalition considers the lengthy suspension to be a direct injustice to the 2,966 voters who cast their vote for Ms Draunidalo in the 2014 elections, as well as further worsening the gender balance in Parliament. With Draunidalo’s suspension, there are now just 7 women in Fiji’s 50-member Parliament, a ratio of only 14% women to 86% men.
“We call on the Privileges Committee and Government Members to reconsider this decision, which we feel is disproportionate and unnecessarily deprives voters of an engaged and active representative,” she said.
“It is the Coalition’s understanding that the incident could more appropriately have been raised as a Point of Order during the debate on 2 June 2016, allowing the Speaker to immediately rule on the issue as outlined in the Standing Orders. Instead, the matter was raised much later on the basis of an audio clip that was then referred to the Privileges Committee.”
“Removing a Member of Parliament in this way is likely to dissuade other Parliamentarians from thoroughly debating national issues. Yet democracy is all about debate, a diversity of views, and vigorous but productive disagreement.”
“This incident is significant because it undermines the perception of Fiji’s democracy and our Parliamentary process. It is not just about those who voted for Ms Draunidalo, but for all voters - will our issues be debated robustly in Parliament or is it going to become an increasingly hollow process?,” Ms Chetty added. Source: Fijilive