7 Sep 2019

Fiji opposition MP suspended for refusing to apologise to PM

1:05 pm on 7 September 2019

A Fiji opposition MP has been suspended from parliament for six months for refusing to apologise to the prime minister.

Frank Bainimarama and Pio Tikoduadua

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

Pio Tikoduadua and several other opposition MPs walked out of parliament on Friday night, after hours of debating a report into breaches of privilege by himself and Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

A report delivered to parliament on Friday by the Privileges Committee recommended parliament ask Mr Tikoduadua to apologise to Mr Bainimarama for making a personal attack on him in the House.

The report also cleared Mr Bainimarama of forcefully touching the opposition MP - despite video footage showing the prime minister grabbing and shoving him outside parliament on 9 August - but recommended he apologise to Mr Tikoduadua after admitting to verbally abusing him.

"I offer my unreserved apologies to him, to my colleagues, to the parliament and to you Mr Speaker Sir for my actions," Mr Bainimarama later told parliament.

But after a motion to amend the Privilege Committee's recommendations and instead outright suspend the prime minister for two years was narrowly defeated, opposition MPs staged a walkout with Mr Tikoduadua, who refused to apologise.

"If I am to choose between my seat and my dignity, I'd rather lose my seat," he wrote on his Facebook page.

In line with the Privilege Committee's recommendations, Mr Tikoduadua was suspended without salary for six months on Friday.

Following the prime minister's apology the speaker adjourned parliament until Tuesday 12 November.

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