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George Speight no Longer a Member of Fiji's Parliament - 2001-12-08

In Fiji, George Speight, the U.S. educated businessman who lead last years coup, has been dismissed from Parliament. He was elected as an member of Parliament in September but has been held on a prison island awaiting a trial for treason and has been unable to attend parliamentary meetings.

Under Fiji's constitution, any member of Parliament who misses two consecutive sessions can be expelled.

The speaker of Fiji's House of Representatives, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, has written to George Speight telling him he is no longer the M.P. for the mainly indigenous constituency of Tailevu North.

George Speight won the seat for the hardline nationalist party, the Conservative Alliance, in a general election two months ago. The former businessman has been in jail for more than a year.

He was arrested last year after a 56 day siege inside the parliament compound in the capital Suva. During the uprising the government of Fiji's first ethnic Indian prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry was deposed. The rebels claimed their actions were carried out to defend indigenous rights.

George Speight's ejection from parliament will now be followed by a new election in Tailevu North. There is nothing in the constitution that can stop him from running again.

His colleagues in the Conservative Alliance, which is one of the most powerful minor parties in the parliament, says they'll organize a mass demonstration in Suva to protest George Speight's expulsion.