Bainimarama: Party leader’s presence rejected by Speaker

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama during break. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau did not agree to the presence of National Federation Party leader Professor Biman Prasad during a proposed meeting between Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Opposition MP Pio Tikoduadua.

The revelation surfaced in Mr Bainimarama’s evidence to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee in their meeting dated September 4, 2019.

This was after he was questioned by committee member and Defence Minister Inia Seruiratu about his offer to apologise to Mr Tikoduadua.

Mr Bainimarama confirmed that he had offered to apologise to the Opposition MP after what transpired outside Parliament on August 9.

“My understanding was that he could not make it. My understanding was that, initially, he (Mr Tikoduadua) said he was still distressed on what had transpired on the Friday, we were supposed to meet on Saturday,” PM Bainimarama said.

“My understanding from the honourable Speaker when I asked him the second time, which was the week after was that he (Mr Tikoduadua) wanted to bring his leader in, the honourable Professor Biman Prasad and honourable Speaker said, ‘I am not having honourable Professor Biman Prasad in my office, I just wanted him and you (Mr Bainimarama)’, so he probably came with the condition which the honourable Speaker did not want.”

Mr Bainimarama also told the committee that he made another attempt through Ratu Epeli to offer an apology to Mr Tikoduadua a week after the incident happened, however, then told him that “because he (Mr Tikoduadua) came up with conditions, he (Ratu Epeli) was not going to have any of that.”

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