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Swear claim

Aqela Susu
Saturday, March 10, 2018

OPPOSITION Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa is looking at other options after the Speaker Dr Jiko Luveni ruled against a matter of privilege filed by Opposition member Mosese Bulitavu against Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama in Parliament yesterday.

The matter of privilege concerned alleged comments made by Mr Bainimarama during a lunch break in the Parliament's big committee room in Suva on Thursday.

It is alleged that the PM swore at Mr Bulitavu during the lunch break.

In her ruling, Dr Luveni said it was important to note that the use of the words when speaking referred to a member speaking either in Parliament or a committee of Parliament.

However, in this case, she said the allegations related to comments made at a function during a lunch break of the proceedings. "As I understand it, they do not relate to comments made either in Parliament or a committee out of Parliament," Dr Luveni said.

"My opinion, therefore, is the comments do not constitute grounds for referral to the privilege committee for consideration."

She said the comments made against the Speaker previously that led to the suspension of a member of Parliament on the grounds of breaching privilege, in her view, were irrelevant to the case in question.

Therefore, the matter would not be referred to the Parliament Privilege Committee, she said.

"Because the protections that apply to the Speaker as an officer and chair of the Parliament do not extend to individual members for comments made outside Parliament; those are matters for political debate or for individual redress."

Ro Teimumu said all the Opposition wanted was fairness.

She also labelled the alleged comments as "unparliamentary" and "undiplomatic".

"My thinking is that in this life, we always have to be fair; whether you are in Government or in Opposition. We just ask people to be fair," Ro Teimumu said.

"In this regard, because the Speaker has made a ruling, we are looking at in terms of what options are available to us in regards to what was said, to whom it was said and the ruling by the Speaker.

"We are looking at other options that are available to us in terms of the Standing Orders that we have to abide by and other issues that we also need to look at.

"What we are looking at is fairness so that whether you are in Government or Opposition, when you bring in an issue it should be looked at in totality in regards to both sides of the House."

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