Bid to oust USP’s pro-chancellor thwarted by Fiji ‘stalling’

Fiji's controversial pro-chancellor at USP Winston Thompson ... decision on his future delayed until next month. Image: FBC news

By Samisoni Pareti in Suva

Attempts to remove the University of the South Pacific pro-chancellor and one of its council’s committee chairperson – both of Fiji – were thwarted yesterday when the USP Council special meeting ran out of time.

Fiji’s five-member delegation led by its Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum were accused of stalling the deliberation of the council when it met via zoom.

Council interim chair Lionel Aingmea, who is also President of Nauru, adjourned the meeting at 4.30pm Fiji time as a number of council members had exited the zoom platform.

A council member who spoke to Islands Business on the condition of anonymity says Fiji’s AG made several attempts to introduce motions that were not on the meeting agenda.

This included a motion for the USP Council to reopen investigations into its Vice-Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia.

He also proposed to table a letter, the content of which he did not disclose.

After much opposition from several council members, some of whom questioned the non-adherence to meeting protocol or convention, both Fiji’s motions were put to the vote and defeated.

Lunch break needed a vote
Even the decision to adjourn the meeting for lunch had to be voted upon.

The only successful motion passed by the council yesterday was the vote to adopt the agenda that President Aingmea had submitted (and not the one Fiji proposed), and the election of Professor Pat Walsh, representative of the New Zealand government to the USP Council, as the new deputy chair.

He replaces Tongan accountant Aloma Johansson, whom Fiji had nominated to have her term renewed.

The abrupt adjournment of today’s meeting meant that controversial Fiji government reps in the council of Winston Thompson and Mahmood Khan would stay.

The next meeting is now scheduled for mid-November.

Samisoni Pareti is editor of the regional news magazine Islands Business.

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