• Rabuka, Qion­i­bar­avi boy­cott Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee Meet­ing

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - SELITA BOLANAVANU­A selita.bolanavanu­[email protected]­jisun.com.fj

Op­po­si­tion Leader Si­tiveni Rabuka and col­league Adi Li­tia Qion­i­bar­avi boy­cotted the Par­lia­men­tary Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee meet­ing yes­ter­day. The af­ter­noon meet­ing was to dis­cuss the case be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Voreqe Bain­i­marama and Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party pres­i­dent and MP Pio Tiko­d­uadua.

The Speaker of Par­lia­ment, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, had ear­lier in the morn­ing ruled that he had re­ferred the case to the com­mit­tee after Mr Tiko­d­uadua had lodged a com­plaint for al­leged as­sault against Mr Bain­i­marama with Ratu Epeli on Au­gust 9.

He also named the mem­bers of the com­mit­tee: Veena Bhat­na­gar (deputy Speaker), At­tor­ney-Gen­eral Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Inia Seruiratu (Min­is­ter for De­fence, Na­tional Se­cu­rity and For­eign Af­fairs), Alvick Ma­haraj (As­sis­tant Min­is­ter for Em­ploy­ment, Pro­duc­tiv­ity and In­dus­trial Re­la­tions), Mr Rabuka and Adi Li­tia.

Mr Rabuka said last night they had writ­ten to Ratu Epeli that they

would not par­tic­i­pate be­cause they be­lieved that the process had not been prop­erly fol­lowed.

“We do not want to prej­u­dice the Po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion by par­tic­i­pat­ing in an­other in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said last night.

He added that not hav­ing the ma­jor­ity is also a fact in the com­mit­tees.

He said Op­po­si­tion was al­ways the mi­nor­ity and even if they par­tic­i­pated “our views will not be taken to ac­count and the ma­jor­ity will be taken into.” The meet­ing car­ried on with­out them.

Dur­ing his ear­lier ad­dress in Par­lia­ment, Ratu Epeli re­vealed that Mr Bain­i­marama had met him on Au­gust 9 and of­fered his apol­ogy to him and Par­lia­ment over the al­leged in­ci­dent. He also said the PM also of­fered to apol­o­gise to Pio Tiko­d­uadua in front of him. Ratu Epeli said he tried to ar­range a meet­ing with Mr Tiko­d­uadua but he was not avail­able

It is un­der­stood that the PM had reached out twice through the Speaker seek­ing to apol­o­gise to Mr Tiko­d­uadua.

In turn, Mr Tiko­d­uadua did not want to meet with the PM and the Speaker alone. He wanted NFP leader Bi­man Prasad to be present. Mr Tiko­d­uadua had also gone ahead and given an in­ter­view to Aus­tralian me­dia say­ing that he did not think there would be any apol­ogy from the PM, de­spite at­tempts made for the apol­ogy to be made in front of the Speaker by Mr Bain­i­marama.

ABC’s Pa­cific Beat had re­ported: “But Mr Tiko­d­uadua says he’s not hold­ing out any hope of an apol­ogy.

“I’m not even sure they’re even think­ing that way. So no,” Mr Tiko­d­uadua was quoted telling the Aus­tralian broad­caster.

In his ad­dress yes­ter­day, Ratu Epeli said there had been a breach of priv­i­lege by both Mr Bain­i­marama and Mr Tiko­d­uadua for words al­legedly spo­ken and act al­legedly done within the par­lia­men­tary precincts on Au­gust 9.

He there­fore re­ferred the al­leged in­ci­dent to the Par­lia­men­tary Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee. He di­rected the com­mit­tee to meet and con­sider all rel­e­vant av­enues and to ta­ble its re­port with the rec­om­men­da­tions to Par­lia­ment no later than Thurs­day, Septem­ber 5.

He said Par­lia­ment was an in­de­pen­dent arm of the State and was fully en­ti­tled to take such mea­sure it deemed fit to main­tain its in­tegrity and deco­rum, and to take ac­tion for breach of priv­i­lege or con­tempt of Par­lia­ment.

He said the Fi­jian Con­sti­tu­tion and the Stand­ing Or­ders were clear that what­ever hap­pened in the Par­lia­ment precincts comes un­der the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the Speaker. The Speaker had the au­thor­ity to main­tain or­der and deco­rum in Par­lia­ment in ac­cor­dance with the Stand­ing Or­ders, he said. He said it was the Speaker’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to se­cure and main­tain the hon­our and dig­nity of Par­lia­ment.

Ratu Epeli high­lighted that also on Au­gust 9, he re­ceived a let­ter from NFP leader Bi­man Prasad re­quest­ing to se­cure CCTV footage of Par­lia­ment and in­form­ing Ratu Epeli of his in­ten­tions to take the mat­ter to the Priv­i­leges Com­mit­tee. Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Op­po­si­tion mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Adi Li­tia Qion­i­bar­avi.

Leader of Op­po­si­tion Si­tiveni Rabuka.

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