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Fiji MP Suspended Until 2018 For Name Calling

The President of Fiji’s National Federation Party has been suspended from the country’s parliament until 2018 after calling a government minister “an idiot”.

The harsh penalty means Roko Tupou Draunidalo won’t be able to even enter the parliamentary precinct.

Government MPs pushed through the punishment by using their parliamentary majority.

The suspension stems from a heated debate on Wednesday when Ms Draunidalo thought she heard Education Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy use the words “dumb natives” – something he denies. She then called him “an idiot” in response.

During her final speech today in parliament, she insisted her reaction was warranted.

“The Honourable Minister for Education was insulting us, taunting us and denigrating us – all of us on the opposition benches,” she said. “He was implying that we were intellectually inferior.”

South Pacific political analyst Tess Newton Cain from TNC Consulting says the suspension may be about more than name calling. “There are concerns that she is actually being censured for trenchant criticism of the Prime Minister, the attorney-general and the Fiji First government,” she says.

Speaking on ABC Radio’s Pacific Beat program late today, Ms Draunidalo called the penalty “completely disproportionate”.

She says she hasn’t decided her next move and whether to lodge an appeal. “There is a long discussion to be had with party members and lawyers,” she says. “This is democratic Fiji.”

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key is due in Fiji next week after declaring the 2006 coup “ancient history”.

Pasifik News

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