Rift Be­tween NFP, SODELPA Widens

Fall­out from PAC ker­fuf­fle over Bi­man Prasad’s exit re­opens old wounds in par­ties’ frag­ile re­la­tions

Fiji Sun - - Front Page - Arieta Vakasukawaqa Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki arieta.vakasukawaqa@fi­jisun.com.fj

Aschism be­tween SODELPA and the Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party has widened over the Pub­lic Ac­counts Com­mit­tee row. It came out into the open on Thurs­day when Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party leader Bi­man Prasad sur­prised SODELPA Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment Aseri Radro­dro in a press con­fer­ence in Suva. Af­ter crit­i­cis­ing Gov­ern­ment about his re­moval, Mr Prasad turned to Mr Radro­dro and asked him to clar­ify a state­ment made by the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral, Aiyaz SayedKhaiyum. Mr Prasad claimed Mr SayedKhaiyum said Mr Radro­dro was un­happy with him as PAC chair­man and dis­ap­pointed in the way he con­ducted meet­ings. He also claimed that the A-G had al­leged Mr Prasad had politi­cised is­sues. Mr Radro­dro de­clined to com­ment. He said he would wait for the party’s de­ci­sion to de­cide his fu­ture as a PAC mem­ber.

It is un­der­stood that Mr Radro­dro was un­happy be­cause he was there on a di­rec­tive from Op­po­si­tion Leader Ro Tei­mumu Kepa to support Mr Prasad. He was to­tally un­pre­pared and was caught by sur­prise by Mr Prasad’s ques­tion. His close SODELPA as­so­ci­ates said they took ex­cep­tion to Mr Prasad’s ef­forts to try and jus­tify his po­si­tion by pub­licly putting Mr Radro­dro on the spot. They said Mr Prasad should ac­cept the con­se­quences of his ac­tions and stop blam­ing Mr Radro­dro and oth­ers. It is un­der­stood that Mr Radro­dro had ex­pressed his con­cerns in a par­lia­men­tary busi­ness meet­ing about how PAC was do­ing. For sev­eral months there had been no meet­ing. Many in the SODELPA par­lia­men­tary cau­cus had wanted Mr Radro­dro to be­come the PAC chair. They said he was the log­i­cal choice be­cause he was a char­tered ac­coun­tant and had been a Gov­ern­ment au­di­tor. They were shocked when Ro Tei­mumu ap­proached Mr Prasad, an econ­o­mist, to chair PAC. It cre­ated a rift in the party and Ro Tei­mumu had to front up to the cau­cus to ask for their for­give­ness for fail­ing to con­sult them. Many SODELPA MPs were also not amused that the three NFP MPs, Mr Prasad, Roko Tupou Drau­nidalo and Prem Singh had been al­lo­cated seats in the front bench. They ar­gued that the NFP had re­fused to go into coali­tion be­fore the 2014 Gen­eral Elec­tions and only joined SODELPA for po­lit­i­cal con­ve­nience. It was the Fiji Labour Party that gen­uinely wanted to go with SODELPA but it did not win any seat’s. SODELPA MPs have also not for­got­ten that when they boy­cotted a spe­cial par­lia­men­tary sit­ting ad­dressed by In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi in Novem­ber 2014, the NFP MPs at­tended. When PAC con­tro­ver­sies broke out be­cause of Mr Prasad’s pub­lic ut­ter­ances in the me­dia about is­sues it was dis­cussing, it was in­evitable that some­thing would hap­pen. Sens­ing that a change in the chair was in­evitable SODELPA pres­i­dent and sus­pended MP Ratu Naiqama Lal­a­bal­avu had rec­om­mended that Mr Radro­dro should step in. But Mr Radro­dro, is un­der­stood to have respected and hon­oured the di­rec­tive of Ro Tei­mumu to support Mr Prasad. Now he awaits her de­ci­sion whether he should con­tinue as PAC mem­ber. If he does an­other SODELPA MP will have to be se­lected to re­place Mr Prasad. The PAC row has now cre­ated a wide gulf be­tween the two par­ties. Ro Tei­mumu is now the only re­main­ing link be­tween them.

Many SODELPA MPs were also not amused that the three NFP MPs, Mr Prasad, Roko Tupou Drau­nidalo and Prem Singh had been al­lo­cated seats in the front bench. They ar­gued that the NFP had re­fused to go into coali­tion be­fore the 2014 Gen­eral Elec­tions and only joined SODELPA for po­lit­i­cal con­ve­nience.

Op­po­si­tion Leader and SODELPA MP Ro Tei­mumu Kepa

SODELPA MP Aseri Radro­dro.

NFP MP Tupou Drau­nidalo.

NFP Party Leader and MP Bi­man Prasad

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