23 Aug 2019

Footage shows Fiji PM grabbing and shoving opposition MP

5:08 pm on 23 August 2019

Footage has emerged showing Fiji's Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama grabbing and shoving an opposition MP, contradicting key claims from the governing party and Mr Bainimarama over the incident.

Frank Bainimarama and Pio Tikoduadua

Frank Bainimarama and Pio Tikoduadua Photo: AFP and CC BY-SA 4.0

The video shows Mr Bainimarama seizing the lapel of National Federation Party member Pio Tikoduadua's coat for about two seconds and giving him a light shove in a carpark outside the parliamentary building in Suva.

Since Mr Tikoduadua first claimed in parliament that he was assaulted by Mr Bainimarama on 9 August, the government has come under intense pressure to look into the accusations. A police investigation is underway. Fiji's Speaker, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, has said he would review CCTV footage of the alleged assault.

But from the government, denials abound.

Within hours of Mr Tikoduadua's claims surfacing, the governing Fiji First party called them a "blatant lie". Mr Bainimarama has insisted he only "spoke sternly" with the opposition MP, who he accused of personally insulting him in parliament.

However, the video is consistent with how the incident was described by Mr Tikoduadua and another opposition MP who says they witnessed it.

The footage also appears to contradict Mr Bainimarama's claim that Mr Tikoduadua broke his own glasses: it shows his glasses falling out of his jacket and onto the concrete moments after Mr Bainimarama grabbed him.

During the incident, about six security guards looked on as Mr Bainimarama grabbed Mr Tikoduadua, but made no attempt to intervene.

Mr Bainimarama could also be seen arguing with Mr Tikoduadua, who has claimed he was also threatened and sworn at by the prime minister during the assault.