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The Parliamentary Privileges Committee is recommending that Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and National Federation Party (NFP) MP, Pio Tikoduadua need to apologise to Parliament or face six months suspension from the House.
This follows the Committee’s week-long inquest into the alleged altercation between the PM and Tikoduadua on 09 August.
The Committee after hearing all evidence and considering all relevant matters says it is satisfied that there is a breach of privilege on the part of the Prime Minister and Tikoduadua.
The Committee says during the examination of Bainimarama, it noted that he was remorseful of his actions and again offered to apologise.
The reports says when Tikoduadua was asked by the Committee whether he would accept Prime Minister’s apology, he responded “Why should I apologise?” and later he replied that he will require time to think about it.
It says when asked whether he would apologise to the Prime Minister, Tikoduadua replied that he has done nothing wrong and therefore has nothing to apologise for.
The report further says the PM admitted that he was remorseful. It says Bainimarama realised that he was wrong and immediately on the same day at around 3.30 pm apologised to the Speaker.
The Committee says Bainimarama also advised the Speaker that he was willing to apologise to Tikoduadua. In that regard, the Hon. Speaker attempted to arrange a meeting with Tikoduadua and the Prime Minister but this meeting did not eventuate.
After hearing evidence from Tikoduadua, the Committee reviewed the CCTV footage again and noted that Tikoduadua only took one step back as opposed to being thrown back. The Committee established that there was no evidence of a forceful shove/push/touch from the Prime Minister as alleged by Tikoduadua.
The Committee noted from the Prime Minister’s testimony that he pulled the collar to attract his attention about what he said about him. Furthermore, whilst responding to Bulitavu’s question, “Can you recall what words did you say?”, the Prime Minister responded and said “Well I abused him.”
The Prime Minister further stated in his testimony that he was distraught and depressed.
The Committee noted from the verbatim notes on Tuesday, 03 September 2019 Pio Tikoduadua stated that the Prime Minister should be the last person talking about violence against women in the House.
When asked what made him say that, he replied,“Of things that I know.”
When asked whether he viewed the Prime Minister as a violent person, given what he said that he should be the last person to say this, Tikoduadua replied that there are things irrespective of what the Committee was going to say, about the Prime Minister he was not going to share to the Committee wherever it would take him.
When Tikoduadua was asked if he knew something about the Prime Minister in person with regards to violence against women, he replied “Yes”.
The report goes on to say when asked the same question on Wednesday, 04 September 2019, Tikoduadua did not hesitate to answer and even implicated an Honourable Minister.
The Committee fully noted that the incident referred to by Tikoduadua on Wednesday, had completely nothing to do with the Prime Minister and therefore the Committee established that Tikoduadua was trying to cover up the fact that he had personally attacked the Prime Minister by referring to his own house.
Members of the Government side comprising the Inia Seruiratu, Dr Mahendra Reddy, were of the strong view that the use of the words “…..own House” in the response by the Tikoduadua, was an attack on the Prime Minister’s family which provoked the Prime Minister to rise on a point of order. The Members argued that Tikoduadua’s testimony to the Committee did not sufficiently clarify otherwise.
However, Adi Litia Qionibaravi and Mosese Bulitavu did not agree with this interpretation as they were of the view that it could also refer to the Parliament Chambers, the august House, the other side of the House or the FijiFirst Party. This was supported by Tikoduadua’s testimony on 3 September 2019.
The report is now being debated in Parliament.
The report has not been signed off by SODELPA MPs, Qionibaravi and Bulitavu.
Meanwhile, Speaker of Parliament has this morning ruled there was no breach of privilege by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama against SODELAP MP Lynda Tabuya.
This comes after Mp Tabuya lodged privileges motion claiming that the PM had shouted that she should cover herself up and signalled that she should wear his jacket.
In his ruling, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau says he has reviewed the video footage in question and saw no breach of any privilege.
This means the matter will not be referred to the privileges committee and there will be no further debate on the matter.
SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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