16 Aug 2019

Former Fiji PM criticises police over Bainimarama investigation

4:26 pm on 16 August 2019

Fiji Labour Party leader says Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama should not have been allowed to leave the country to attend this week's Pacific Forum Leaders meeting in Tuvalu.

Mahendra Chaudhry said Mr Bainimarama should have been questioned by police over his alleged assault of opposition MP Pio Tikoduadua at the parliamentary complex in Suva last week.

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Photo: Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat

Mr Chaudhry, who is a former prime minister, says the allegations are very serious and police should act with urgency as required in such a high-profile case.

"I think people know that they'll try and brush the whole thing under the carpet. This is why the police investigations must proceed expeditiously. The prime minister was allowed to fly out to Tuvalu without being interviewed. It's deplorable. That this incident has been reported to have taken place. This must be investigated. But the police are seen to be very slow," Mahendra Chaudry said.

The prime minister has denied he assaulted Mr Tikoduadua.

"We understand that there are credible witnesses to the assault who have given their statements to the police," Mr Chaudhry said.

"I have no reason to believe that these witnesses who are members of parliament would have anything to gain by not telling the truth.

"I believe that the incident did take place," he said."

Pio Tikoduadua

Pio Tikoduadua Photo: CC BY-SA 4.0

Mr Chaudhry said the opposition must now seek justice.

"They must pursue this method to its logical conclusion."

He said had it been a member of the opposition who had allegedly assaulted a government member - "by now he would have been in custody and probably been produced in court for assault."

"It's all part of the same mob".

Mr Chaudhry also took a swipe at Speaker Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

"The speaker is also dragging his feet," he said. "It happened in the precincts of Parliament.

"And the safety and security of members of parliament is the business of the speaker."

Fiji Attorney General Aiyaz Saiyed-Khaiyum

Fiji Attorney General Aiyaz Saiyed-Khaiyum Photo: Fiji government

Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told journalists the government would let due process take its course as Mr Tikoduadua had reported the matter to police.

He said no one should become the judge and jury, and let the investigation take its course as there are facts in dispute.

But Mr Chaudhry said nothing would come out of this.

"If your fight is with the government, you won't get anywhere," he said. "Nothing has changed."

Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho had said he would not comment as the matter was being investigated.