Bainimarama disqualified to be election candidate until 2032

Bainimarama disqualified to be election candidate until 2032

By Vijay Narayan , Rashika Kumar
Thursday 14/03/2024
Former Prime Minister and FijiFirst Party Leader, Voreqe Bainimarama

Former Prime Minister and FijiFirst Party Leader, Voreqe Bainimarama will not be eligible to contest the general elections until 2032 based on the constitution following his conviction of the charge of one count of attempt to pervert the course of justice by Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo today.

According to Section 56 (2) (g) of the 2013 Fijian Constitution, a person maybe a candidate for election to parliament only if the person has not at any time during the 8 years immediately before being nominated, been convicted of any offence under any law for which the maximum penalty is a term of imprisonment of 12 months or more.

In Bainimarama’s case, his charge, under the Crimes Act, carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

We are currently trying to speak to the Leader of the Opposition, Inia Seruiratu and Acting General Secretary of the FijiFirst Party, Faiyaz Koya regarding this development.

We have also sent questions to the Fijian Elections Office.

Acting Chief Justice Salesi Temo overturned Magistrate Seini Puamau’s judgement and convicted Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner, Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho this morning.

Qiliho was convicted of one count of abuse of office.

The offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

Bainimarama and Qiliho were found not guilty and acquitted by Magistrate Puamau on 12th October 2023.

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions had filed eight grounds of appeal which mainly centred on the opinion that the Magistrate erred in law and in fact on several evidentiary and procedural issues, thereby resulting in an unfair trial and an erroneous verdict.

In his judgement, Justice Salesi Temo found that the Magistrate had erred in fact and in law when she found Bainimarama and Qiliho not guilty and therefore overturned the Magistrate’s decision. Justice Temo found both guilty as charged.

Justice Temo ordered that this matter be brought before Magistrate Puamau next Monday in the Suva Magistrates Court for her to abide by the decision of the High Court and pronounce both the respondents, Bainimarama and Qiliho guilty as charged and convict them accordingly.

Justice Temo ordered Bainimarama and Qiliho and the State to file their mitigation and sentencing submissions by 20th March after which the Magistrate is ordered to conduct a sentence hearing on 21st March followed by the sentencing of the two on 28th March 2024.

For more stories about the acquittal appeal of Bainimarama and Qiliho, click on the link provided.

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