Ex-FijiFirst MPs Seruiratu and Usamate Chart Independent Course After Party Deregistration

Two former FijiFirst prominent parliamentarians Inia Seruiratu and Jone Usamate have declared their intention to continue their parliamentary terms as independents in the wake of the party’s deregistration this week.

Both underscored the importance of continuing their work in the national interest and maintaining the ability to challenge government policies. However, they also indicated a willingness to support government initiatives when they align with the country’s best interests.

Speaking on behalf of the caucus, Seruiratu said he has no ill feelings for members looking to jump-ship, pointing out that their focus remains on national issues, including next week’s 2024-2025 budget debate.

“The caucus remains, and all preparations are going well towards the budget. We are focusing on national issues, and the budget being one,” Seruiratu stated noting that a collective decision on whether to join another party or remain as independents will be made around July 14 or 15.

He highlighted that members have the freedom to choose their path following the deregistration, whether to remain as independents or join another party.

“It’s their freedom and choice to make, and we respect it. But work does not change. We will continue to move on.” He added, “I will remain as independent because the work is so important, looking after the national interest, people voted us for, there will be no change.”

Usamate echoed the same sentiments, highlighting his focus on supporting initiatives that benefit the country and adhering to the principles of integrity and equality.

“There will be times that the government wants something to do that I can support; we will definitely support it in the best interest of the country,” he said, adding: “Even if we are on one side of the house if there are things that we can agree with, we will agree with. At the same time, there are certain things that we would like to have in terms of what we fight for. I hold very fast to the ideals of equality for everybody in this country – And I want to make sure that that happens.”

The deregistration of FijiFirst, confirmed by the Registrar of Political Parties, Ana Mataiciwa three days ago, on Monday, 1 July, was due to the party’s failure to amend its constitution to include guidelines on internal dispute resolution. This followed a complaint about the party’s internal leadership disputes, which led to an investigation and the subsequent ruling.

When deregistering the party, the Registrar also allowed for a 14-day window for anyone wishing to appeal the decision to the Electoral Commission of Fiji. The Registrar will begin the winding-up process as per section 28(1) of the Political Parties Registration Act if no appeal is lodged.

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