Chiefs back In full force In SODELPA

Fiji Sun - - COMMENT - NE­MANI DE­LAIBATIKI Feed­back: ne­mani.de­laibatiki@fi­jisun.com.fj

Bau Chief Ratu Epenisa Cakobau was elected un­op­posed as the new Pres­i­dent of SODELPA yes­ter­day as pre­dicted.

But the elec­tion of Ro Tei­mumu Kepa, the Roko Tui Dreketi, para­mount chief of Rewa and Bure­basaga Con­fed­er­acy, and Ratu Naiqama Lal­a­bal­avu, the Tui Cakau, para­mount chief of Cakau­drove and the To­vata Con­fed­er­acy as Vice Pres­i­dents came as a sur­prise.

Ratu Naiqama’s name was also nom­i­nated for pres­i­dent but he with­drew.

There was con­sen­sus that it was Kubuna Con­fed­er­acy’s turn now to hold the pres­i­dent role,

Ratu Epenisa is the heir to the Vu­ni­valu ti­tle, para­mount chief of Kubuna. Bure­basaga and To­vata have had their turns.

There may have been pock­ets of dis­sent in the Spe­cial Gen­eral Meet­ing but af­ter Ratu Naiqama spoke and gave his bless­ings for Ratu Epenisa the dis­sent­ing voices qui­etened down.

That was an in­di­ca­tor to what hap­pened next. Now that Kubuna holds the top post, Bure­basaga and To­vata would have a role to play in the party hi­er­ar­chy. In came Ro Tei­mumu and Ratu Naiqama.

The chiefs are back in full force. Ro Tei­mumu and Ratu Naiqama were un­der­stood to be wind­ing down into re­tire­ment.

Ratu Naiqama re­signed as pres­i­dent in De­cem­ber 2018.

Both had said they would re­tire from politics be­fore the 2018 Gen­eral Elec­tion. Ro Tei­mumu said she heeded the call of the Vanua to put her re­tire­ment on the back burner. Ratu Naiqama fol­lowed her and changed his mind late in the 2018 elec­tion cam­paign

Many got the im­pres­sion that this will be their last term in Par­lia­ment. They could be proved wrong yet again.

At the rate they are go­ing, don’t be sur­prised to see them in the SODELPA lineup of can­di­dates for 2022. Ratu Epenisa ap­pears to have given them a new lease of life. Or are they there to keep a check on each other in the tra­di­tional ri­valry?

But one thing is sure, Ratu Epenisa is the new face of SODELPA and brings a breath of fresh air to a deeply di­vided party.

Ratu Epenisa Cakobau

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