Privileges Committee to recommend action against Bainimarama today

Privileges Committee to recommend action against Bainimarama today

Leader of the Opposition, Voreqe Bainimarama outside parliament earlier this afternoon

The Parliamentary Privileges Committee will report back to parliament today with recommendations regarding Leader of the Opposition, Voreqe Bainimarama.

Following the recommendations, parliament is expected to have a debate before a vote is taken.

Bainimarama appeared before the committee chaired by Deputy Speaker, Lenora Qereqeretabua.

Bainimarama was summoned to appear before the committee after the Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu referred him to the committee.

Bainimarama did not make any comments while entering the committee room after being asked by the media on what will be his stand if the committee recommends him to be suspended from parliament today. He also did not make any comments when asked on whether he will apologize if asked to do so.

He said no comments while leaving the committee room.

The Privileges Committee is chaired by Qereqeretabua and the members include Lynda Tabuya, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, Esrom Immanuel, Faiyaz Koya and Jone Usamate.

Home Affairs Minister, Pio Tikoduadua had raised the matter of breach of parliamentary privilege against Bainimarama after his comments in parliament while responding to President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere’s speech.

Tikoduadua was also summoned by the committee.

The committee is expected to look at precedence when dealing with the matter or breach of parliamentary privilege.

For previous matters of privilege - Former SODELPA MP, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu was suspended from Parliament for two years in 2015, former NFP MP Tupou Draunidalo was suspended for the remainder of her term in June 2016, former SODELPA MP Ratu Isoa Tikoca was suspended for two years in September 2016 while Tikoduadua was suspended for 6 months in 2019.

Tikoduadua says Bainimarama uttered words that are denigrating, humiliating to the Head of State and also as Commander-in-Chief when appealing to the rank and file of the RFMF which in view of Tikoduadua are highly seditious and disrespectful while dishonoring the dignity and bringing parliament into disrepute which contravene the parliamentary standing orders.

Ratu Naiqama says the words used by Bainimarama are matters which are out of order in parliament and constitute a prima facie breach of privilege.

Bainimarama had said President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere has failed the Fijian people and he will go down in history as the person who aided and abetted the most incompetent and divisive government.

He also said unfortunately, he has to inform the rank and file of the RFMF that all the philosophical commitment and years of hard work of the RFMF is now being undermined and disregarded by this Government.

Bainimarama said the President who we looked up to because we believed that he genuinely believed in the values and principles of Constitution has done an about turn.

The Opposition Leader said Fijians, in particular the weak and vulnerable, those who want actual and practical implementation of the rule of law, those who want the practical implementation of the Constitution and those Fijians who want socio-economic stability, all look up to the RFMF to guarantee these if and when it is under threat.

He appealed to the rank and file of the RFMF to preserve their manna, to maintain their credibility and their calling and not forsake their constitutional role.

Bainimarama said he wishes to inform the RFMF that its gift and legacy, the Fijian Constitution, is being ignored and bashed on a daily basis and the current Prime Minister wants, what the RFMF worked so hard for, removed.

Section 62 of the parliamentary standing orders says when speaking a member must not impute improper motives to any other member.

It says the President’s name may not be introduced to influence Parliament or any committee, the conduct of members, the President, the Chief Justice (performing the functions of the office of President under section 88 of the Constitution), members of the judiciary, or other persons acting in a judicial capacity must not be raised, except on a motion with notice introduced with the Speaker’s permission.

In any other situation, reference to the conduct of any of these individuals is out of order.

The standing orders also says it is out of order for a member, when speaking, to use offensive words against Parliament or another member; treasonable words; seditious words; or words that are likely to promote or provoke feelings of ill-will or hostility between communities or ethnic groups within Fiji.

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