SODELPA Sinks Deeper Into Quag­mire Af­ter 3 Go Against Rabuka’s Peace Bid

Fiji Sun - - EXPLAINER - Ne­mani De­laibatiki ne­mani.de­laibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

Si­tiveni Rabuka’s plan to rec­on­cile fac­tions in So­cial Demo­cratic Lib­eral Party has suf­fered a ma­jor set­back.

It has been skew­ered by three de­fen­dants in the land­mark SODELPA court de­ci­sion which ruled against them.

De­spite a de­ci­sion by the care­taker party leader not to pur­sue an ap­peal, gen­eral sec­re­tary Adi Li­tia Qion­i­bar­avi, re­moved pres­i­dent Ro Filipe Tui­sawau and re­moved gen­eral sec­re­tary Usaia Waqatairew­a have filed their in­ten­tion in court to ap­peal.

They could have based it on Mr

Rabuka’s orig­i­nal state­ment that the party would ap­peal.

How­ever, he has since changed his mind be­cause he wants to unite the fac­tions and in­di­cated that he would like to save the po­ten­tial le­gal fees to pre­pare for the 2022 elec­tion cam­paign.

It is un­der­stood that he is at­tract­ing back­ers to his plan in­clud­ing one of the de­fen­dants, re­moved vice-pres­i­dent Anare Jale. Mr Jale de­clined to go with the trio.

The only func­tion­ing vice-pres­i­dent, Vi­jay Singh, on med­i­cal treat­ment in Aus­tralia, is un­der­stood to be sup­port­ing Mr Rabuka’s plan. Mr Singh should be lead­ing the party ac­cord­ing to the party con­sti­tu­tion, but be­cause he is in Aus­tralia, the man­tle of leadership has been passed on to Mr Rabuka in the in­terim.

It is likely that the trio’s ap­peal is per­sonal and not en­dorsed by the party be­cause Mr Rabuka does not sup­port an ap­peal and the man­age­ment board, the party’s gov­ern­ing body, has not met yet. The trio are pay­ing for their ap­peal not the party. But the process will in­cur costs for both sides and dampen ef­forts to rec­on­cile them with the ap­peal hang­ing over their heads.

This cur­rent sta­tus quo highlights the con­fus­ing state the party is in. Mr Rabuka, a sea­soned politi­cian and a for­mer prime min­is­ter, re­alises that un­less he comes up with a res­cue plan, the party is head­ing straight into an abyss where it is hard to come back.

He has had pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence. It hap­pened to his So­qosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) Party. He could not stop the in­ter­nal re­volt against his leadership.

The break­way of a group which led to the for­ma­tion of the Con­ser­va­tive Al­liance Matan­itu Vanua (CAMV), a party whose power­base was from the Cakau­drove-Bua-Macu­ata bloc, trig­gered the demise of SVT. Mr Rabuka be­lieves that the only hope for SODELPA’s fu­ture is rec­on­cil­i­a­tion not con­fronta­tion. The fact is that its cur­rent state is not sus­tain­able in the long run.

For Mr Rabuka, per­son­ally, this is his last throw of the dice, to re­turn to the coun­try’s top job he once held, to make good his failed prom­ises and right the wrongs of the past.

So it is in his in­ter­est that the party rises above Jus­tice Sharma’s judg­ment, rec­tify the gov­er­nance woes and po­si­tion the party for the 2022 elec­tion.

Jus­tice Sharma ruled that the an­nual gen­eral meet­ing at Yaroi Vil­lage, Savusavu in June last year was null and void.

The elec­tion of of­fice bear­ers was there­fore in­valid. But is Adi Li­tia’s, Ro Filipe’s and Mr Waqatairew­a’s ap­peal in­ten­tion a show of no-con­fi­dence in Mr Rabuka’s leadership? Adi Li­tia has yet to re­spond to queries on this is­sue.

But it raises sev­eral other ques­tions about the party. If it can­not get its act to­gether how can it con­fi­dently present it­self to the peo­ple as the al­ter­na­tive gov­ern­ment in 2022.

How can it gov­ern the na­tion if it can­not get things right in­ter­nally? It can­not bank on its per­for­mance in 2018 when it came to­gether de­spite its un­re­solved in­ter­nal dif­fer­ences and won six ex­tra seats in Par­lia­ment.

An in­creas­ing num­ber of mem­bers are ask­ing ques­tions, like the re­cent let­ter of griev­ances from To­vata SODELPA USA.

Un­less it re­solves out­stand­ing is­sues, it can for­get 2022.

Ro Filipe Tui­sawau.

Anare Jale.

Adi Li­tia Qion­i­bar­avi.

SODELPA leader Si­tiveni Rabuka.

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