Inconsistencies, Contradictions Dot Trail of Opposition Parliamentarians in Bainimarama-Tikoduadua Incident
If you are confused and can’t understand the kind of politics the Opposition MPs are playing in the current session of Parliament we don’t blame you.
We all know that National Federation Party MPs, leader Biman Prasad, Pio Tikoduadua and Lenora Qereqeretabua, are boycotting Parliament over the Bainimarama-Tikoduadua case. But on Tuesday, they attended the Privileges Committee meeting to give evidence against Mr Bainimarama.
They wrote to the Speaker, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and lodged a complaint against the PM. They also wanted Ratu Epeli to investigate the alleged incident and asked for a CCTV footage because they intended to bring this matter to the Privileges Committee.
When Ratu Epeli reported to Parliament on Monday his ruling that he was referring the case to the Privileges Committee, the MPs were absent. It was a show of disrespect to Ratu Epeli, especially when the report was in response to their request.
Their response to Ratu Epeli’s statement was negative. Then they had the audacity to attend the Privileges Committee meeting which the Speaker had ordered.
They should have boycotted it as well
to make their position on this issue consistent.
But they didn’t because it suited their narrow political agenda and that is to build their case against the PM. Because of this case other important matters of national interest were relegated by the Speaker to expedite its resolution. Mr Tikoduadua was called in yesterday after another session with the committee.
Today the committee will table its report to Parliament. The question is: Will the NFP MPs accept the findings and recommendations of the committee? Now that that they have told the committee what they had, will they attend Parliament today. They in effect ended the boycott when they attended the committee.
Was the Speaker informed of the boycott and the reasons by writing before it happened like the Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka did before boycotting the Privileges Committee meeting with Adi Litia Qionibaravi. According to parliamentary protocol and convention, MPs need to seek the Speaker’s permission by letter that they would be absent and state the reasons involved.
If they fail to comply with the requirements should their salaries be docked? What about their responsibility to those who elected them?
Police spokesperson Ana Naisoro has confirmed that no official report was lodged by Mr Tikoduadua at any Police station regarding the alleged tampering incident.
He had claimed in a media report that his car was tampered with and he feared for the safety of his family after an accident.
This is a serious claim and should have been reported to the Police to investigate. Why wasn’t it reported then (last month) and what is his motive in bringing it out now?
The implications are serious and could lead to all kinds of speculations that are unfounded.
Rabuka’s changing stance
Senior Opposition partner SODELPA also showed questionable conduct. Originally Mr Rabuka had written to the Speaker saying the party’s parliamentary caucus had unanimously agreed to not participate in the Privileges Committee, saying the Speaker had erred in his ruling.
He said they were of the “strong view” that Parliament should not interfere with the work and constitutional role of the Police.
He then tried to join the committee after the Attorney-General Aiyaz SayedKhaiyum had recused himself after Mr Rabuka complained against him. He failed. Mosese Bulitavu replaced him. Adi Litia Qionibaravi is the second SODELPA member.
That is a complete about turn from their original position.
Last but not least is Mr Rabuka’s attempt to claim the credit of initiating reconciliation between Mr Bainimarama and Mr Tikoduadua. Mr Bainimarama had sought to apologise to Mr Tikoduadua in the presence of the Speaker on the day of the alleged incident.
The ball is now in Mr Tikoduadua’s court to decide on whether he is prepared to to accept Mr Bainimarama’s apology.
Opposition MP Pio Tikoduadua outside Parliament last month.
Opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka outside Parliament on September 4, 2019.