By Felix Chaudhary in Suva
The opposition FijiFirst party still “seems to be confused” about the role of its general secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says prominent Suva lawyer Richard Naidu.
“Mr Sayed-Khaiyum appears to have triggered his exit from Parliament by accepting a position on the Constitutional Offices Commission,” he said.
“That means he is a ‘public officer’ as defined in the Constitution.
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“An MP who accepts appointment as a ‘public officer’ loses his seat in Parliament. That has already happened.
“Mr Bainimarama is now suggesting that Mr Sayed-Khaiyum will continue as general secretary of FijiFirst.
“But Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is still a ‘public officer’.
“Under section 14(1)(b) of the Political Parties (Registration Conduct Funding and Disclosures Act 2013) a ‘public officer’ is not eligible to be a political party official.
“In fact, under section 14(1)(a), while he holds office in the Constitutional Offices Commission, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum is not allowed even to be a member of the FijiFirst party.
“So FFP’s plans for Mr Sayed-Khaiyum, now that he is out of Parliament, still seem confused.
‘Other parties will be writing’
“No doubt other political parties will be writing to the Registrar of Political Parties, Mohammed Saneem, asking him to ensure that the FijiFirst party is complying with the law.”
Naidu was referring to a video statement on the FijiFirst party Facebook page on Tuesday night where FijiFirst leader Voreqe Bainimarama said Sayed-Khaiyum’s exit from Parliament would mean that “he will be able to fully concentrate on FijiFirst matters outside Parliament”.
“I will be leading the charge inside Parliament and he will be leading the charge outside Parliament,” Bainimarama said.
“So to ensure that we are constantly in touch with our supporters and all Fijians on a daily basis, I have tasked our general secretary to be our voice outside Parliament.
“He will be in our parliamentary office, he will give us advice and also issue statements on behalf of FijiFirst when Parliament is not sitting.”
Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem confirmed that any person taking up public office must ensure that they comply with section 14(1) of the of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act 2013.
In a media statement issued after questions from The Fiji Times, he said public office holders according to section 14(1) of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act 2013 (Act) were not eligible to be an applicant or a member of a registered political party, not eligible to hold office in a registered political party, are not to engage in political activity that may compromise or be seen to compromise the political neutrality of that person’s office in an election; or publicly indicate support for or opposition to any proposed political party or a registered political party or candidate in an election.
Felix Chaudhary is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.
This content originally appeared on Asia Pacific Report and was authored by APR editor.