Suspension not pay back or revenge – Gavoka

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Viliame Gavoka during the Parliament sititing at the Parliament complex in Suva on Monday, 13 February, 2023. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

The suspension of former prime minister and Leader of the Opposition Voreqe Bainimarama was not “pay back or revenge”, says Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) leader and Deputy Prime Minister Viliame Gavoka.

Speaking to this newspaper, he said the Parliament and its integrity was to be protected at all times.

“People have this misunderstanding that we wanted to pay back or something like that, but it is nothing like that,” Mr Gavoka said.

“It was nothing against Mr Bainimarama personally. We have to protect our Parliament.

“What he said was beyond the pale and you can’t have people saying that about the President because you’re undermining the integrity of the President.”

He said the President needed to be respected at all times, as well as the military.

“You cannot be making those types of suggestions to the military. “If you do it right now, you’ll continue to do it right into the future.

“We need to be above all, respect those two institutions – the Office of the Presidency and the military.

“It’s our duty today to protect it and so it was all about integrity of Parliament.”

Mr Bainimarama was suspended from Parliament for three years, effectively on Friday regarding statements he made against the President in Parliament on February 13, 2023.

Mr Bainimarama had said the President had “failed the Fijian people and he will go down in history as the person who aided and abetted the most incompetent and divisive government”.

In relation to speculations surrounding the voting system in Parliament, Mr Gavoka said the parliamentarians knew who voted because the voting was done electronically and results were recorded.

“We know because it was electronic, there was no secret ballot.

“So I don’t know exactly how it went, but when you vote electronically it is recorded.”

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