Politics

President rejects Opposition’s call for Parliament to convene

The President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote yesterday said he considered it “inappropriate” for him to agree to the Opposition’s request to summon Parliament. Seventeen Opposition members sent a request to the President on March 3rd, calling on the President to summon Parliament under Section 67(4). The Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa had called on the  President […]

Nacanieli Tuilevuka

March 17, 2016 9:59 am

The President Major-General (Ret’d) Jioji Konrote yesterday said he considered it “inappropriate” for him to agree to the Opposition’s request to summon Parliament.

Seventeen Opposition members sent a request to the President on March 3rd, calling on the President to summon Parliament under Section 67(4).

konrote-kepa

The Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa had called on the  President to convene a meeting of Parliament to “make decisions on the unprecedented crisis caused by Cyclone Winston.”.

The President is obliged to summon Parliament after he received a petition from members for Parliament to be recalled in accordance with S67 (4). There is no discretion to do otherwise.

However, the President said that this provision could only be activated if Parliament is not in session. He emphasized that Section 163(1) of the Constitution defined a session of Parliament as “a sitting of Parliament starting when it first meets after a prorogation or dissolution of Parliament and ending when Parliament is next prorogued or dissolved.”

This provision is also replicated in the Standing Orders of Parliament: Under Order 3, “session” means the period of time beginning on the day that Parliament first meets after a prorogation/dissolution and ending on the day that Parliament is next prorogued or dissolved, which in either case shall not be more than 12 months after the start of the session.

The President said that Parliament is currently in session.

The current session began on 14 September 2015 with the opening of Parliament by the then President. The current session is scheduled to end on 5 September 2016, when Parliament will be prorogued.

Given that Parliament is in session, Section 67(4) of the Constitution cannot be used to summon Parliament, as it will only apply if Parliament is not in session.

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