(Thursday 17/10/2019) By: Vijay Narayan
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Christopher Pryde has decided that no charges will be laid against Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama in relation to allegations that he assaulted a Member of Parliament, Pio Tikoduadua in the parliamentary precincts on 9th August this year.
Pryde says under section 73 of the Constitution, Parliament has the power to discipline members of Parliament. He says those powers are further particularised under the Parliamentary Powers and Privileges Act 1965 which provides for the prosecution of offences such as assault committed by one member against another member.
Pryde says under section 20 of that Act, a person found guilty by Parliament for the offence of assault is liable to a fine of $400 or to imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or both.
He says as the altercation occurred within the precincts of Parliament, the Speaker exercised his authority and referred the matter to the Privileges Committee to hear evidence of the matter and to make findings on the allegation.
The DPP says those findings were accepted by Parliament which then endorsed and implemented a penalty.
Pryde says the constitutional separation of powers doctrine applies to prevent the courts and the executive from interfering with a decision made by Parliament in the exercise of its constitutional authority.
He says, therefore, as the matter has now been dealt with by the Parliamentary Privileges Committee and those findings and recommendations have been accepted by Parliament, it would not be in the public interest for a second hearing to take place before the judiciary in the criminal courts.
Pryde says this would, in effect, be subjecting the Prime Minister to double jeopardy contrary to section 14 (1) (b) of the Constitution after his matter has already been adjudicated on by the Privileges Committee and a decision made by Parliament after hearing the evidence from witnesses.
The DPP says had the matter not been heard by the Privileges Committee and dealt with by Parliament, there was sufficient evidence for the matter to proceed to court.
Pryde says for these reasons, there will be no further action on this file and the matter is now closed.
The police docket has been returned to the police.
PM apologises while Tikoduadua suspended for 6 months after refusing to apologise (10/9/2019)
Majority of the members of parliament have voted against SODELPA’s motion that the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama offer an immediate apology today and be suspended for two years.
27 parliamentarians voted against the motion while 23 MPs voted for the motion.
Immediately after this vote, all the opposition members walked out of parliament.
The FijiFirst parliamentarians then voted for the Parliamentary Privileges Committee’s motion that the Prime Minister and Pio Tikoduadua offer an apology today or be suspended for six months from immediate effect.
Bainimarama has just offered his apology in parliament.
He says his actions were not appropriate and should not have happened.
Bainimarama says Tikoduadua is a man he has known for decades.
The Prime Minister says Tikoduadua was a man that once served as his personal staff officer before dealing in events of 2000 and subsequently as his Permanent Secretary.
Bainimarama says as his personal staff officer, Tikoduadua spent many hours in his home with his family.
He says Tikoduadua was a man he once felt was a member of his family.
Bainimarama says their history as friends and colleagues taken with the statement Tikoduadua made about his family are why Bainimarama reacted on 9th August this year.
The Prime Minister says his actions should not have happened.
However National Federation Party and MP, Pio Tikoduadua said that he knows what he said and what he meant in parliament on August 9th, 2019 and he will not apologize to parliament.
Tikoduadua will now be suspended for 6 months from parliament.
Tikoduadua has just said in parliament that he will stand by his values, virtues and honour, and will not offer an apology in parliament as he says he never meant the Prime Minister’s family when he said the Prime Minister should look at his own house.
Tikoduadua says he knows that he may be suspended for 6 months from parliament from today for not offering the apology in parliament but he stresses that he never attacked the Prime Minister’s family.
We've walked out of Parliament with @SODELPAFiji in protest of the ruling by the committee on Privileges. If I am to choose between my seat and my dignity, I'd rather lose my seat. pic.twitter.com/yRGXfprU6n— Pio Tikoduadua M.P (@tikoduaduaMP) September 6, 2019
Tikoduadua says when the Prime Minister allegedly attacked him, he did not do anything.
Tikoduadua says as he told the Privileges Committee that he only had do to something stupid.
Speaking after his suspension outside parliament Tikoduadua says he will now go to his village and plant yaqona for 6 months.
By: Vijay Narayan, Semi Turaga and Naveel Krishant
Parliament debates on motion for PM and Tikoduadua to issue apology today or face 6 months suspension
By Vijay Narayan
The Parliamentary Privileges Committee has come back with the recommendation that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and National Federation Party President Pio Tikoduadua should immediately issue their apology in parliament today.
Parliament is now debating on the Privileges Committee report that has recommended that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and National Federation Party President Pio Tikoduadua should immediately issue their apologies in parliament today.
The committee states that if they fail to do so, they should be suspended for 6 months.
Chairperson Veena Bhatnagar says whilst this was a consensus report, it should be noted that there were reservations from the opposition members with respect to the suspension specified in the recommendations.
The report and recommendations has only been signed by government members in the committee, Veena Bhatnagar, Inia Seruiratu, Doctor Reddy and Alvick Maharaj.
Opposition members in the committee, Adi Litia Qionibaravi and Mosese Bulitavu have not signed off on the report.
Minister for Agriculture Doctor Mahendra Reddy has moved the motion for Bainimarama and Tikoduadua to issue their apologies today or face suspension from parliament for 6 months with immediate effect from today.
Doctor Reddy says the committee agreed that there were breaches from both Bainimarama and Tikoduadua.
He says there was a personal attack by Tikoduadua against the Prime Minister and his family on the floor of parliament chambers on 9th August this year and the Prime Minister, in the manner in which he approached Tikoduadua within the parliamentary precincts on the same day to see clarification on the verbal attacks in parliament.
He says the committee does not condone the actions of both parliamentarians as leaders of our community.
Ro Filipe tables amendment motion for Prime Minister to apologise to the nation today and be suspended for 2 years
By: Vijay Narayan
SODELPA President and MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau has moved an amendment motion in parliament that only the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should issue an apology in parliament today for his actions in the parliamentary precincts on August 9th this year and also be suspended from parliament for 2 years.
While tabling the motion, Ro Filipe says the Prime Minister should be suspended for 2 years given the gravity of the breach of privilege and taking into account the high office the Prime Minister holds.
SODELPA President and MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau
Debate on this amendment motion is also underway in parliament.
Prasad States the Report on priviledge matter should not be condoned and debated upon, the law should take its course
By: Pratika Mala
National Federation Party Leader Professor Biman Prasad has stated in parliament today that the Parliamentary Privileges Committee Report on the matter of privilege involving the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and NFP President Pio Tikoduadua should not be condoned and debated upon but the law should take its course.
Professor Prasad told the Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau the matter was only reported to the Police because of the ruling made by the Speaker himself when he had said that he could not rule on something that he had not witnessed.
Professor Prasad claimed that it is obvious the Privileges Committee Report is a hogwash.
He adds to him this is fictional justice only found in movies probably.
He says two of the Opposition members have not signed the report.
He says the truth came out two weeks ago when the video footage of the incident went viral on social media.
Professor Prasad claims the findings of the report is designed to get Police off the case.
He says parliament is proposing to make Tikoduadua the sacrificial lamb and apologise for something that he never said or never meant to say.
Parliament should not interfere with the constitutional role of the Police - Rabuka
By: Semi Turaga
Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka says parliament should not interfere with the constitutional role of the Police particularly with incidents that are criminal in nature.
He says the constitution guarantees the right to equality before the law.
While speaking on the motion by Ro Filipe Tuisawau that the Prime Minister apologise today and be suspended for 2 years, Rabuka says this requires that all citizens whether members of parliament, heads of government or cabinet ministers must be treated equally just as any ordinary citizen who is alleged to have breached any criminal law is investigated by the Police, and parliament therefore must not give parliamentarians special treatment or exemptions to criminal law which applies to ordinary citizens.
Rabuka says decisions in parliament against other members have been biased, vindictive and inconsistent with parliamentary norms, conventions and the rule of law because it is intended to suit somebody’s agenda.
Where is the fairness and the preaching and harping about FijiFirst’s policy of accountability - Lalabalavu
By: Naveel Krishant
SODELPA MP, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu today questioned the government side where is the fairness and the preaching and harping about FijiFirst’s policy of accountability and transparency.
He made these comments while making a contribution on the Parliamentary Privileges Committee’s recommendation that Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and National Federation Party President, Pio Tikoduadua should immediately issue their apology in parliament today or be suspended for six months and the amendment motion by SODELPA MP, Ro Filipe Tuisawau that only the Prime Minister should issue an apology in parliament today for his actions in the parliamentary precincts on August 9th this year and also be suspended from parliament for 2 years.
Ratu Naiqama says the matter could have been resolved easily as they went to the Prime Minister to attempt reconciliation between the Prime Minister and Tikoduadua.
He says this was not positive.
He says they did not want the matter to come this far and have the matter resolved there and then.
Ratu Naiqama also talked about his case where he was suspended from Parliament for two years for making comments against the late Speaker, Dr. Jiko Luveni.
He says he verbally apologised to the late Dr. Luveni in her chambers and issued two written apologies, one to the Speaker amd one to the nation.
PM is a true leader - Premila Kumar
By Iva Danford
The Minister for Industry, Trade and Tourism Premila Kumar says the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and NFP President Pio Tikoduadua were colleagues and when Tikoduadua personally attacked Bainimarama we expect the Prime Minister to be hurt as it is a natural thing.
While speaking during the debate on the matter of privilege, Kumar says this is natural reaction because when you know and have worked with someone, and they try to pick on the family this is bound to happen.
Kumar says the manner and tone in which Tikoduadua attacked the Prime Minister was not something a party president should do.
Kumar says it should be noted that throughout these events, only one concerned party has made genuine moves to reconcile and apologise, and that is the Prime Minister.
She says within a few hours after the incident occurred, the Prime Minister apologised to the Speaker, and also made attempts to apologise to Tikoduadua.
Kumar says this shows that he is a true leader.
The Minister says there is a breach by both members, and they both should apologise in true Fijian spirit.
Pio Tikoduadua was a friend and they formed a close relationship - AG
By: Iva Danford
The Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says someone from Opposition said that the Prime Minister should man up, but he wants to state in parliament that it takes a bigger man to apologise and recognise his mistake and say I did wrong.
While supporting the motion for the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and NFP MP Pio Tikoduadua to apologise today or face 6 months suspension, Sayed-Khaiyum says within a few hours after the incident the Prime Minister apologised to the Speaker, the Parliament and wanted to apologise to Tikoduadua.
Sayed-Khaiyum says he was a friend of Tikoduadua and they formed a close relationship and when Tikoduadua resigned, he was upset.
He says if Tikoduadua can cause him so much anguish when they were close and shared secrets with him, he wonders what would be the deep sense of relationship between Tikoduadua and the Prime Minister.
Sayed-Khaiyum says members of parliament need to come to debate with clean hands.
He says the Leader of the Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka spoke about the democracy of parliament but this is the very chamber in which he violated the sanctity of parliament.
Sayed-Khaiyum says the Prime Minister never claimed that he is the Messiah.
He says comments from the other side of the house is contradictory.
Vuniwaqa supports motion for PM and Tikoduadua to apologise or face 6 months suspension
By Semi Turaga
Minister for Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation Mereseini Vuniwaqa says they are not saying that the Prime Minister wasn’t wrong and the government is not condoning violence.
While supporting the motion for the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and NFP MP Pio Tikoduadua to apologise today or face 6 months suspension, Vuniwaqa says the Opposition is saying that only the Prime Minister was wrong.
She says they are not saying that the Prime Minister wasn’t wrong as the Privileges Committee has made that finding for them.
Vuniwaqa says the Privileges Committee has also found that Tikoduadua was wrong.
Vuniwaqa stresses that violence is not justified.
Vuniwaqa says this is a parliamentary process that they are going through which is fully mandated under the standing orders and that does not stop the criminal investigation within the Police jurisdiction.
She says parliament as an independent institution considered the two matters under scrutiny under the Privileges Committee.
Maharaj stresses that NFP has disrespected the Speaker by not trying to reconcile with PM
By: Navitalai Naivalurua
Parliamentary Privileges Committee member FijiFirst MP, Alvick Maharaj stressed in parliament that the National Federation Party has disrespected the Speaker, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau by not trying to reconcile with the Prime Minister.
While supporting the motion for both the Prime Minister and Pio Tikoduadua, Maharaj says what is important is that one realizes his or her mistakes and repents on it.
He says this is what the Prime Minister did just hours after the incident happened where he went and asked for forgiveness from the Speaker and also wanted to apologise to Pio Tikoduadua.
Maharaj says just one week later, the Prime Minister tried again to meet with Tikoduadua but once again he had reservations involving a third party.
He says while Baimarama was trying to apologise, Tikoduadua along with SODELPA were trying their level best to tell the country that in your own house and that side of the house is the same.
He adds that on the same day of the incident, Leader of NFP, Professor Biman Prasad wrote to the Speaker asking him for CCTV footage of parliament and to refer the matter to the Privileges Committee. However Maharaj says Professor Prasad is now saying that the committee should not have handled this matter of privilege.
Niko Nawaikula asks government side where's their messiah
By: Naveel Krishant
SODELPA MP, Niko Nawaikula has told parliament today that the Privileges Committee is making a fool of itself in applying different rules to the Opposition and a different rule for the Prime Minister.
While supporting the motion raised by SODELPA MP, Ro Filipe Tuisawau that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama apologise today and be suspended for two years, Nawaikula says the apology that will come from the Prime Minister will not be genuine and labelled it as ‘plastic’.
Nawaikula says when Mosese Bulitavu was implicated, Bulitavu was sitting in parliament when the motion to condemn his statement was ongoing.
He then questioned why is not the Prime Minister sitting in parliament?
Nawaikula says he did not hear anyone from the Government side condemn the Prime Minister.
Nawaikula questioned what has been proposed by the Privileges Committee goes against the Government’s principality of equality and common citizenry.
He says that he respects the decision of the Speaker, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau but he thinks it is wrong for the Speaker to make a decision on his own to convene the Privileges Committee, more so in this case when they have a matter which is criminal in nature.
Nawaikula also labelled the Privileges Committee as evil.
The call for action against PM is a desperate one from Opposition - Bala
By: Pratika Mala
FijiFirst MP and Minister for Employment, Youth and Sports, Parveen Bala has said in parliament today the call for action against the Prime Minister is a desperate one from the Opposition and the call for an apology and the 2 years suspension is nothing more than a publicity stunt.
While supporting the motion for both Bainimarama and Tikoduadua to offer their apologies in parliament today or face 6 months suspension, Bala says National Federation Party President, Pio Tikoduadua had no right to drag the Prime Minister’s family into a debate of parliament.
Bala says it was crystal clear that Tikoduadua was talking about the Prime Minister’s house.
He says this was a deliberate act to hurt Bainimarama and his family as the debate had no relation to his family but was about drugs.
Bala adds Bainimarama’s family does not have a right of reply and should not have been brought into this.
The Employment Minister says despite all this the Prime Minister had walked with his head high to the Speaker’s office to apologise but the government side cannot say the same for Tikoduadua as he was nowhere to be seen.
PM should be suspended from parliament for 2 years - Jale
By: Naveel Krishant
SODELPA MP, Anare Jale says that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should be suspended from parliament for two years.
While supporting the amendment motion by SODELPA MP, Ro Filipe Tuisawau that Bainimarama apologise today and be suspended for two years, Jale says suspending the Prime Minister would be consistent with precedent set by Parliament in relation to breaches of privileges.
The PM feels that he can't be touched - Kepa
By: Iva Danford
SODELPA MP, Ro Teimumu Kepa says the Prime Minister feels that he cannot be touched and he is above the law.
Ro Teimumu highlighted this while supporting the motion raised by SODELPA MP, Ro Filipe Tuisawau that the Prime Minister offer his apology in parliament today and be suspended for two years.
She says the SODELPA Leader’s initiative to help mediate between Tikoduadua and Bainiamrama was done in good faith, but the Prime Minister’s actions in accusing him of point scoring and wanting to be seen as a statesman make it clear Bainimarama is not sorry for what he has done.
Ro Teimumu says when Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu was suspended from parliament in 2015, it was like a close family member had died as it was so painful and heartless, but what the Prime Minister has done is unprecedented as never before in Fiji a Prime Minister has allegedly assaulted another party leader or another MP.
In 2015, Ratu Naiqama was suspended in relation to the foul language and derogatory comments made by him in a SODELPA public meeting in Makoi when he was asked about the Speaker’s decisions.
Ro Teimumu says three Opposition MPs were also suspended for two years for words used.
She says the case before parliament today is different as the Prime Minister has allegedly assaulted an MP in the parliament premises and should at the very least be suspended for 2 years.
Tikoduadua has empowered every troll on social media
By: Semi Turaga
Assistant Minister for iTaukei Affairs Selai Adimaitoga says NFP MP Pio Tikoduadua has empowered every troll on social media that verbally attacks the Prime Minister and insults people.
She says Tikoduadua has set the example to all Fijians that if you are losing an argument, you can attack your opponent’s family.
Adimaitoga also commended the Prime Minister for being honorable enough for not attacking any opposition member’s family.
She says the Prime Minister is a family man and is honourable enough to attempt to apologise to Tikoduadua more than once.
Adimaitoga has also asked the Opposition to do something for their country instead of crying like they have been since 2014.
She also hit out at SODELPA MP Lynda Tabuya saying her attempt to get people’s attention yesterday has wasted Fiji’s time.
Adimaitoga supports the motion for both Bainimarama and Tikoduadua to offer their apologies in parliament today or face 6 months suspension.
People of Fiji have passed their judgement that PM is guilty - Gavoka
By: Navitalai Naivalurua
SODELPA MP, Viliame Gavoka says the Prime Minister should give his apology and also be suspended for 2 years as the people of Fiji have passed their judgement that he is guilty and no amount of justification from his side will change the people’s voices.
Tuisawau says it is best for the Prime Minister to redeem himself by taking those two years and come back and wait if the people of Fiji can forgive him.
Gavoka stated that he read in the Parliament Privileges Committee report that children must not see this so that people must not be encouraged to behave in this manner.
He says with this issue that has gone viral in the last couple of days, children are now wondering where this leadership is heading towards.
Gavoka says opposition members have taken the two years suspension and came back strong and he is urging Bainimarama to do likewise for the sake of this country because here onwards he will not have the credibility that his side claims that he has.
Salote Radrodro supports the amendment motion of SODELPA
By: Pratika Mala
SODELPA MP Salote Radrodro says she supports the amendment motion of SODELPA that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama apologise to parliament today and be suspended for two years given the severity of the breach and the high post he holds.
Radrodro adds they have moved the amended motion to reflect those on the opposition side of the house.
She then brought to the attention of the house previous breach of Parliamentary Privilege cases where the accused were suspended for two years.
She says all Government members had voted for the motion of suspension but in this case they have shifted from two years to six months.
Radrodro says that in any other country, they would have done the right thing and resigned.
Lenora supports motion by Tuisawau that PM offer apology today and be suspended for 2 years
By: Naveel Krishant
National Federation Party MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua says she supports the motion by SODELPA MP, Ro Filipe Tuisawau that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama offer his apology in parliament today and be suspended for two years as she claims that the alleged assault by Bainimarama on NFP President Pio Tikoduadua last month at the Parliamentary Precincts was pre-meditated.
While speaking on the motion, Qereqeretabua says that she along with two members of the NFP Caucus were witnesses to the alleged incident and she also claimed that the Prime Minister swore at Tikoduadua.
Qereqeretabua says when they were in Parliament on August 9th, Tikoduadua had told her that he was leaving the chambers after speaking on his right of reply on his motion as he had an errand to run.
She said after he stood up to leave, she saw that the Prime Minister left after a while and Minister for Fisheries, Semi Koroilavesau also left the chamber and her gut instinct was on high alert and she also left the house.
Qereqeretabua says that when she reached their opposition chambers, Tikoduadua was there with their two Caucus staff and told them what she had seen and heard.
She says Tikoduadua decided to carry on as planned and she told the two staff that they together with Qereqeretabua accompany Tikoduadua to his vehicle so that if something happened, they can be witnesses.
Koroilavesau claims Qereqeretabua misled parliament when she said PM asked Koroilavesau on the 9th of August about the location of Tikoduadua
By: Semi Turaga
Minister for Fisheries Semi Koroilavesau has claimed that NFP MP Lenora Qereqeretabua misled parliament when she said that Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had asked Koroilavesau outside parliament on 9th August this year about the location of NFP President Pio Tikoduadua.
Koroilavesau says when the debate happened and Tikoduadua stated what he stated, Koroilavesau knew straight away that the Prime Minister was at his heads.
Koroilavesau says he was very disappointed.
He says he automatically went out of parliament to try to separate Tikoduadua and Bainimarama.
Koroilavesau says he wanted to keep as much distance between Bainimarama and Tikoduadua.
Aseri Radrodro denounces strongest terms the Parliamentary Privileges Committee’s recommendations
By: Pratika Mala
SODELPA MP, Aseri Radrodro has said in parliament today that he denounces in the strongest terms the Parliamentary Privileges Committee’s recommendations.
Radrodro adds that making personal attacks should not be entertained as everyone has a history.
He says we don’t want this house to turn into an archaeological playground.
Radrodro says Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s actions were unwarranted and he should have followed the process and lodged a complaint.
He told parliament that Bainimarama needs to exercise wisdom and not allow his emotions and temper to get the better of him.
Radrodro reminded the members of parliament to always behave in a way that is above reproach.
He adds no person must be allowed to exert any form of influence over the law.
Radrodro stated that he personally disagreed with the findings and recommendations of the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.
It seems PM and Tikoduadua will be apologising in a vacuum - Tuisawau
SODELPA President and parliamentarian, Ro Filipe Tuisawau says it seems Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and NFP MP, Pio Tikoduadua will be apologizing in a vacuum.
He says the Privileges Committee has not taken into account the parties who are offended and the offender.
In his right of reply on his motion for Bainimarama to apologize and be suspended for 2 years, Tuisawau says a person who is apologizing will need to have a heart of forgiveness but he says they have not seen that from the Prime Minister for a long time since the events of 2000 and 2006.
He says no one in government has even acknowledged that the acts of 2006 was treason and resulted in the overthrow of an elected government as well as human rights abuses.
Privileges committee debated on 2 key issues - Reddy
By: Pratika Mala
Agriculture Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy has stated in parliament today that while examining the matter between Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and National Federation Party President Pio Tikoduadua, they gave particular credibility to the Prime Minister and Tikoduadua.
He says they also note the manner in which the Prime Minister approached Tikoduadua was not appropriate.
Dr Reddy says for the past four days and this morning they have been debating on two key issues.
The first if there was an attack on the family of the Prime Minister and secondly whether there was a breach of privilege in the manner in which the Prime Minister had approached Tikoduadua.
Dr Reddy says they had noted and established beyond doubt that Tikoduadua had made a personal attack on the Prime Minister.
He says they also had to disregard the testimony of some witnesses when they found that there was contradiction.
He adds each case differed from the others and they cannot give similar punishment or recommendations as the previous cases because every case is different.