Party regrets decision

SODELPA Leader Viliame Gavoka. Picture: FILE

Nawaikula’s expertise will be greatly missed, says Gavoka

Social Democratic Liberal Party Members of Parliament have lost one of their most vocal indigenous rights advocates leading up to the debate of an important Bill in Parliament next week.

This, according to party leader, Viliame Gavoka, who said the move to vacate SODELPA MP Niko Nawaikula from his Parliamentary seat was unfortunate, especially at a time when they needed his expertise.

He said they regretted the decision by the Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem.

Members, he said, were encouraged to rally behind the outspoken MP and his family in his legal pursuit with the court of disputed returns.

“He (Nawaikula) is a fervent advocate of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, making representations to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues,” he said.

“This is an unfortunate turn of event as Hon Nawaikula will not be able to participate in the Parliamentary session next week where we will be debating Bill 17 of 2021.

“This is a subject where his expertise will be greatly missed.”

He called on Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who is also the Minister for iTaukei Affairs, to withdraw the Bill as it trampled the rights of iTaukei landowners who were neither been consulted nor gave their consent.

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