Rabuka attacks PM’s ‘outburst’

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the last session of Parliament. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU/FILE

SOCIAL Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader Sitiveni Rabuka has criticised Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s behaviour towards Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa after reports that he confronted her outside Parliament last week.

It is alleged Mr Bainimarama spoke angrily to Ro Teimumu in a committee room of Parliament after she had questioned his $3000 daily travel allowance in the chamber.

Mr Rabuka said the incident, which was witnessed by members of the SODELPA youth, displayed unparliamentary behaviour where Mr Bainimarama allegedly pointed a finger at Ro Teimumu’s face and angrily made verbal accusations to her.

I am deeply grieved by what I am told about this unfortunate incident,” Mr Rabuka said.

He said no matter the provocation, there was no justification for the Prime Minister’s behaviour towards Ro Teimumu.

Mr Rabuka said Mr Bainimarama’s comment on the Opposition Leader’s marital status as a widow was misogynistic, sexist and demonstrated conduct unbecoming of a national leader, and was foreign to Fiji culture.

“It is deeply grievous on many levels, as well as to her vanua, and to the women of Fiji. “This unfortunate incident demonstrates the abuse that the women of Fiji are often subject to, and I am disappointed with the Prime Minister’s behaviour as a national leader.”

Ro Teimumu said whatever happened in Parliament should remain in Parliament.

“Now what happens inside Parliament, because we’re in politics together and we’re in Parliament together, we just leave it here and we go home, get on with our life,” she said.

Opposition MP Dr Mere Samisoni said she was aware of the incident.

“That displayed behaviour of power by the Prime Minister of Fiji, in front of the members of Parliament, at the dining room where we were enjoying our lunch, is unbecoming of the Prime Minister’s Office,” Dr Samisoni said.

National Federation Party (NFP) vice-president Seini Nabou said NFP was aware of the incident and was outraged at such a brazen display of misogyny by the PM.

She said the act would only further marginalise the active participation of women in politics in Fiji.

“Incidents like this will make women fearful of engaging or getting involved in politics,” she said.

Mr Bainimarama said Ro Teimumu was complaining about his remuneration in Parliament, but was not talking about hers.

“She was complaining about my remuneration in Parliament with regard to poverty level, but she was not talking about her remuneration which is also high,” Mr Bainimarama said.

“She has got a $120,000 job, she has got her car and she has got all the perks in travel, she is not talking about that.”

He also claimed that Ro Teimumu was desperate for the SODELPA leadership.

“I think she is in a move to remove Rabuka so that she can come back in as Leader of Opposition.”

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