Fiji opposition barred from parliament, party suspended
Twenty-four politicians from Fiji's main opposition party have been barred from sitting in parliament after the party, FijiFirst, had its registration suspended, the parliament's speaker says.
The Pacific island nation saw its first change of leader in 16 years at a tightly fought national election in December, where FijiFirst, which won 42 per cent of the vote, was defeated by a coalition of three parties.
Four Fiji political parties were suspended for 30 days for not submitting audited accounts, local media reported.
In a statement, the parliamentary speaker's office said it had been notified by the Acting Registrar of Political Parties of the suspension.
"In light of the suspension of the registration of the FijiFirst party, all twenty-four members are not entitled to take part in the proceedings of parliament or any committee of parliament for the duration of the suspension," it said.
They would also not receive any payment from parliament during the suspension, it added.
FijiFirst could not be reached for comment, and its social media accounts were offline.
Fiji experienced four military coups between 1987 and 2006, when former prime minister Frank Bainimarama took power before forming FijiFirst in 2014.
Current Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, a former coup leader himself, leaves the country on Thursday to visit Papua New Guinea for a regional leaders meeting.