Monday, April 06, 2009

Qarase should be caretaker PM court told

Qarase should be caretaker PM court told - 06/04/2009
A suggestion was made in the Fiji Court of Appeal today that former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase should be appointed as Caretaker Prime Minister to follow the constitutional process in dissolving parliament and allow the process of election to take place.This is a suggestion made by SDL legal counsel Brett Walker to the Appeals Court judges, as something that they may suggest.The appeal case proper began today where Qarase is challenging the High Court decision of October last year where the court ruled in favour of the President that he used his reserved powers and declared that the interim government and its promulgations are legal.The Court of Appeal judges questioned whether Qarase has resigned from office to which the SDL legal counsel said that he has not resigned and he is still the legal and constitutional Prime Minister of Fiji.Meanwhile, Qarase's lawyer, Walker said the current Interim Prime Minister cannot be the Commander of the Fiji Military Force and at the same time be a Prime Minister.He told the Fiji Court of Appeal judges, Justice Randell Powell, Justice Ian Lloyd and Justice Francis Douglas that if he wants to be the Prime Minister, he should stand for the next elections as its unconstitutional for him to hold both positions.He also said that President Ratu Josefa Iloilo should not use the reserved powers to remove a government elected by the people of Fiji.Walker told the court that his client wants the Appeals Court to rule whether the actions taken by the President in exercising the reserved powers is valid or not.He said under the constitution, if the President exercises those powers, it should be based on the advice of the Prime Minister or the Minister before exercising those powers.Walker said the court cannot modify the constitution in any aspect and only the role of the court is to interpret and make a decision which is lawful. The case continues tomorrow.

Fiji President acted correctly, QC argues - 06/04/2009
Fiji’s President had the powers to make decisions outside the country’s Constitution, the lawyer representing the State has argued, on the first day of hearings into an appeal against a ruling that legalised the appointment of Fiji’s interim government.Richard Gordon QC focused his submissions on the President’s powers of necessity, the crux of last year’s High Court ruling in favour of the interim government appointed after the 2006 military takeover.Gordon said the powers of necessity President Ratu Josefa Iloilo used when giving legality to the military-proposed interim government was common law. He added that in the case of a monarch, he or she had the powers to decide if parliament or the prime minister could be relieved of their duties.“The crisis situation in Fiji was such that the head of state had to move outside the boundaries of the Constitution, however there is no clear definition on what the head of state may or may not to do,” said Gordon.He said the President’s prerogative powers had been recognised by the High Court, that there was an emergency power that could be used by the President.He was then told by the judges that the situation in Fiji was different, that it was not a monarch but a republic with a constitution. Gordon replied that although Fiji was a republic, the Constitution stated that the President did have emergency powers but the situation fell outside conventional mechanisms.Gordon added that the 1990 Constitution clearly defined the prerogative powers which included the prerogative of mercy, as did the 1997 Constitution which he said did not carry any words that excluded the executive powers of the President.“The government was paralysed, what could have been done, the president therefore used his powers, such a crisis situation had arrived.”Ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase is appealing last year’s ruling, with his lawyer Bratt Walker arguing today that the President did not have the powers to appoint an interim administration, and, that Qarase was still Prime Minister as he had not resigned as stated in the Constitution.The hearing continues tomorrow morning.

No comments: