November 20, 2014
SODELPA’s decision to boycott the address to Parliament by the Indian Prime Minister reflects on them more than it does on the Bainimarama Government. It shows them to be as petty and small-minded as Bainimarama. We must never let Bainimarama’s low standard of behaviour provoke us to follow suit.
[No 20 /11/2014]
Members of the SODELPA Opposition in Parliament today decided to Boycott the special Parliament meeting planned for visiting Indian Prime Minister His Excellency, Narendra Modi tomorrow, Wednesday 19th November 2014.
In a statement issued today by the SODELPA Opposition caucus, members stated the decision to boycott came after a two hour deliberation on the issue today.
The SODELPA members said in their statement that this protest is not aimed at Prime Minister Modi, but at the uncompromising stance of government in relation to the planning and preparations of the visit.
Members said the Opposition was basically excluded from all of the arrangements relating to Prime Minister Modi’s visit and the last remaining semblance of its ‘inclusion’ in the visit which was the vote of thanks that the Opposition Leader was asked to give, was withdrawn by government members during the Business Committee on Monday afternoon. This decision ignores parliamentary best practice standards where the Prime Minister gives the welcome address and the Leader of the Opposition moves the vote of thanks.
Members expressed concern that the exclusion of the Chiefs in the visit meant that the ceremonies of welcome being accorded to Prime Minister Modi are not based on the normal traditional protocols that other visiting dignitaries and heads of state were accorded and consequently any ceremonies planned will not embrace the ‘depth, spirit and ‘Mana’ befitting a leader in Prime Minister Modi.
Precedence shows that in September 1981, the Chiefs and the people of Fiji welcomed the late Honourable Shrimati Indira Gandhi to Fiji and on this occasion as with all previous occasions when world leaders, heads of state and Royalty graced us with a visit to our islands, she was accorded full ceremonies of welcome by the traditional Chiefly leadership in this country.
SODELPA members have written to Prime Minister Modi recording their regrets at having to take the decision taken and have outlined the reasons why.
SODELPA members said from the outset they had taken the decision to participate in the elections because they wanted to engage, and at every opportunity they have attempted to do just that, however the uncompromising stance of government has made it clear that although elections have concluded, the ‘top down’ approach to governance remains a hindrance to any signs of an early start to a unified approach to resolving the many issues confronting the people of Fiji today.
SODELPA members said they have tried to co-operate and were initially happy to participate in the proceedings tomorrow, however the unilateral decisions by government on this occasion has made it clear, co-operation is currently not part of the governments’ agenda.
Authorized By: SODELPA Opposition Caucus