A-G: Let Due Process Take its Course
The Government will let due process take its course over allegations that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama assaulted National Federation Party parliamentarian Pio Tikoduadua yesterday.
At a press conference last night, the Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said Mr Tikoduadua alleged in Parliament that he was assaulted by the Prime Minister.
Mr Tikoduadua had also claimed that the PM broke his glasses, but Mr Bainimarama said Mr Tikoduadua broke
his own glasses when he spoke to him. Mr Tikoduadua squeezed them tightly, breaking them.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told the media what the Speaker then said and what the NFP leader Biman Prasad said, following which the three NFP parliamentarians walked out of Parliament. He said all MPs, apart from Lenora Qereqeretabua and Mr Tikoduadua, were inside the Parliament chambers when the alleged incident took place. “We understand that Mr Tikoduadua, Ms Qereqeretabua and Mr Prasad gave interview to the media. Mr Tikoduadua said he will report the matter to Police and write to the Speaker. We are not aware if he has done so,” he said. “Given that the matter has been reported to Police, that we know, and we have other witness accounts that conflict with Mr Tikoduadua’s claim, we
will let due process take its course.
“It is of course, and would be highly improper for a complainant - and also the media - to act as judge and jury and arrive at a conclusion even before any Police investigation is completed.
“The difference between this incident and the motion before Parliament on Hon. Bulitavu is that in this case there are only allegations and facts that are in dispute whereas against Hon Bulitavu there was no factual dispute.
“He never denied his actions and in fact, defended them. The motion brought in Parliament was to condemn his behaviour on the basis that the philosophy, the idea and the social impact of his comments were unacceptable of a parliamentarian therefore needed to be condemned.”
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the comments by Mr Tikoduadua in Parliament regarding the Prime Minister’s family was highly unfitting of a parliamentarian.
“When the motion on condemning Hon Bulitavu’s racist and sexist comments, which rationalised gender violence, was moved, we did so on the basis that it was morally and ethically wrong for a leader - a Member of Parliament - to do so. “At no stage did we comment on anybody’s family or what happened in the homes of any Opposition Members of Parliament despite knowing certain individual members of the Opposition having or who have had personal challenges in these areas.
“The argument that a person cannot condemn a behaviour because you know or are related to someone who may have allegedly engaged in that behaviour is ridiculous. “The motion yesterday (Thursday) was about Members of Parliament taking a high moral ground and sending a message that, as leaders, we will not condone violence, racism or sexism. “Indeed yesterday (Thursday) we maintained that expected decorum and expected behaviour. Unfortunately, Hon Tikoduadua did not do that when today (yesterday) he referred to the subject matter that he did not speak on yesterday (Thursday).
“It’s also disingenuous of Hon Prasad to say that when Hon Tikoduadua referred to ‘home’ he was speaking about Government. This is a rather slimy and desperate attempt to justify unacceptable behaviour.
“This was clearly a pointed attack on the Prime Minister’s family, a gross breach of the decorum, setting an ugly precedent for bringing wives, mothers, fathers, daughters, sisters, brothers, sons and grandchildren who have not been elected and not chosen a public life - into the spotlight of Parliamentary debate. This should be off limits.” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Mr Bainimarama visited the Speaker of Parliament yesterday and spoke to him about the matter.
“The matter relating to the alleged incident is with Police and the Hon Speaker of Parliament, and those two independent bodies will deal with matters through their own mechanisms,” he said.
LEFT: Opposition Member of Parliament Pio Tikoduadua at Parliament on August 9, 2019. RIGHT: Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at Parliament on August 9, 2019.