Analysis: Old wounds reopen in SODELPA camp
Prasad-Radrodro conflict causes tension
Just what SODELPA reformers did not want to happen has exploded into the open. The fallout from the Public Accounts Committee involving former chairman and National Federation Party MP Biman Prasad and SODELPA MP Aseri Radrodro has reopened old wounds. Now, the SODELPA’s old guard who have been shifted to one side as the reformers moved in, are backing Mr Prasad and attacking Mr Radrodro. Some have gone to the extent of calling for his expulsion from the party. Attempts by SODELPA president, suspended MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, to calm things down, have fallen on deaf ears. There are demands for Ratu Naiqama to convene a management board meeting. But that won’t happen until the parliamentary caucus has met. Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa is still in the United States. That meeting will wait until she returns. Mr Radrodro’s allies are asking why the old guard are siding with Mr Prasad who is not a SODELPA member. He embarrassed Mr Radrodro publicly by asking him whether he complained to Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum about his performance as chairman during a press conference in Suva. Mr Radrodro had gone to attend the press conference on the instruction of Ro Teimumu. He was in the Opposition Office when Laufitu Malani handed the phone to him. Ms Malani is responsible to Ro Teimumu as an adviser. The rift between the reformers and the old guard had started after the exposure of the controversial Gaunavinaka Report last year. Mr Radrodro is one of the reformers headed by lawyer Mosese Bulitavu. The report was critical of Ro Teimumu’s leadership and the administration of the Opposition Office.
While the two sides filed complaints to the party’s management board, the reformers worked on changes to position the party for the 2018 general election. They finally succeeded and voted for sweeping changes in the amended party constitution. The changes are now being implemented. Adi Litia Qionibaravi takes over as party general secretary from Pio Tabaiwalu. Ms Qionibaravi was the chief architect of the amended constitution. A new party leader should be elected next month to replace Ro Teimumu who continues as Opposition Leader. Mick Beddoes, the former principal administration officer, who tried his best to oppose the reformers finally stepped down. The management board pardoned everyone named in the Gaunavinaka Report controversy. Everyone thought that was the end until Mr Prasad asked that question to Mr Radrodro.
Mr Radrodro’s allies are asking why the old guard are siding with Mr Prasad who is not a SODELPA member.
SODELPA Opposition member Aseri Radrodro.
National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad.