Fiji Opposition Barred From Parliament as Party Suspended

SYDNEY, Australia (Reuters) – Twenty-four Fiji First politicians have been banned from sitting in Parliament after their registration was suspended. The parliament's Speaker announced this on Thursday.

Fiji First, the party that won 42% of votes, lost to a coalition made up of three other parties in a closely contested national election held in December.

Local media reported that four Fijian political parties had been suspended for 30 consecutive days for failing to submit audited financial statements.

The office of the Speaker of Parliament said in a press release that it had received notification of the suspension from the Acting Registrar for Political Parties.

The statement read: "Due to the suspension of registration of Fiji First Party all 24 members will not be able to participate in any of the committees of Parliament, or the proceedings of the Parliament during the period of suspension."

During the suspension they will also not be paid by the parliament, it said.

Fiji First's social media accounts are offline and it is not possible to contact them for a comment.

Between 1987 and 2006 the island nation was subject to four military coups. Former Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama then took over before forming Fiji First.

The current Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka - a former coup leader - leaves the country Thursday for a meeting of regional leaders in Papua New Guinea.