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Karavaki tried to terminate Dr Seniloli: Rabuka

Fiji National University Council member Semesa Karavaki had convened a meeting in September 2023, and unceremoniously dismissed Dr Kesaia Seniloli and three others, who have just been reinstated after rescission of their termination.

Dr Seniloli was FNU Council Chairperson at the time.

This was highlighted in a letter dated 14 September 2024, to the Minister of Education Aseri Radrodro from the Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

Rabuka writes that: “I have been informed that Mr Karavaki insists he is still Chair of the FNU Council, I direct therefore that you formally inform him of the rescission of the letter purporting to appoint him as Chair.”

“It is clear that the FNU Act requires that the Council operate independently of the ministry and political interference.

That is the very clear reason why the Council alone has the power to dismiss its own members.

This is laid out clearly in the Act which requires the rule of natural justice be followed, including that the member is informed formally of allegations of misconduct, and is given the opportunity to be heard by the Council before the Council votes on the motion to dismiss them.”

“This procedure has clearly not been followed by Mr Karavaki and the Acting Vice-Chancellor. The perception of illegality and unfairness is inappropriate to say the least, and opens the Government to liability,” Rabuka said.

The Prime Minister then wrote that the legal opinion from the Office of the Solicitor-General confirmed the procedure in the Fiji National University Act 2009 for the removal of members of the FNU Council is set out in Section 23 of the Act, and that this procedure was not followed or not complied with in the present instance and therefore, that the purported termination of the four Council members in May 2023 is unlawful, void and of no effect.

Rabuka also wrote that the legal opinion concludes that the Ministry must rescind the termination letter of Dr Seniloli, Dr Priscilla Puamau, Dr Ravindra Robin Nair and Peter Zinck.

“In view of the above, I have accordingly decided that the four members shall continue to serve their three-year term as Chair and Council Members accordingly, with no loss of benefits or allowance. I therefore direct that the letter appointing Mr Karavaki as Chair be rescinded and Dr Seniloli to resume as Chair, for the three-year term, and the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the FNU.”

“I direct that the letter of the law governing the FNU be adhered to in spirit and form, and perception of collusion with the Acting Vice-Chancellor and the Ministry guarded against, as in the recent attempts by Mr Karavaki to convene a meeting of the Council to dismiss Dr Seniloli and three others must cease forthwith,” Rabuka said.

Ilaitia Ravuwai
Ilaitia Ravuwai
Journalist | news@fijilive.com

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