The Fijian opposition Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) on Wednesday boycotted the address to the Fijian Parliament by visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for which Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama apologised terming it an “inexcusable behaviour”.
Modi is the first Indian prime minister to visit Fiji in 33 years and was the first foreign leader to address the Fijian Parliament.
At the special session of Parliament ahead of Modi’s address, Bainimarama apologised for the opposition boycott: “Unfortunately, the Opposition has chosen to boycott this session to protest what they mistakenly believe was an attempt to exclude them from these meetings by boycotting this session. Nothing could be farther from the truth.”
“I apologise to you, Prime Minister Modi, on behalf of the people of Fiji, for this inexcusable behaviour, which does not have anything to do with the relations between our countries. It only shows that some of us have some lessons to learn about democracy, statecraft, and nationhood,” he said.
Earlier, SODEPLA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa told Fiji media she was disappointed to hear that the Fiji prime minister’s vote of thanks would not include mention of her as Leader of Opposition.
In turn, the 15 SODELPA members in Fiji’s newly elected Parliament said they would not attend the parliamentary sitting to hear Modi give his speech.
The National Federation Party Wednesday broke ranks with its opposition partner SODELPA and refused to support its boycott of the special parliamentary meeting to hear Modi’s address.
NFP leader Biman Prasad put aside his political differences with the government and welcomed the Indian leader.
The Fijian prime minister in a statement earlier described the opposition boycott as an “insult to the people of Ba town and all Fijians”.
He accused the SODELPA of putting its own political agenda ahead of national interests.