It is unfortunate that the visit of Indian Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi
should have been marred by a boycott by members of the Opposition.
The Leader of the Opposition, Ro Teimumu Kepa and 14 of her Sodelpa members decided to boycott a special parliamentary meeting today to welcome the Indian Prime Minister.
This is a major embarrassment for the Indian Prime Minister and should not have occurred.
According to our sources, the blame for this regrettable incident should fall squarely on Attorney General Aiyaz Khaiyum. It is parliamentary convention on State visits by foreign dignitaries for the Government to welcome and the Opposition to move a vote of thanks.
And indeed, in line with this protocol, the Secretary-General to Parliament had written to Ro Teimumu inviting her to deliver the vote of thanks. However, at the Business Committee meeting (of Parliament) Khaiyum objected saying government knew nothing of this invitation to the Leader of the Opposition to move the vote of thanks. He is then reported to have said that if a Fijian welcomes, then an Indian (read himself) should move the vote of thanks. But government members decided that it would be done by Pio Tikoduadua, the Minister for Information and Transport.
The invitation to Ro Teimumu was then withdrawn – an insult to a high chief and a a regrettable breach of parliamentary protocol.
Given the background, SODELPA’s main reason for boycott of parliament is understandable.