Ratu Naiqama Out Of Inquiry

SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu yesterday recused himself from chairing a management board meeting in Suva because of his close links to an MP in an inquiry. The SODELPA MP
29 Aug 2015 09:29
Ratu Naiqama Out Of Inquiry
SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu yesterday recused himself from chairing a management board meeting in Suva because of his close links to an MP in an inquiry.

The SODELPA MP is lawyer Mosese Bulitavu, who has called for an inquiry into SODELPA issues raised in a controversial confidential report.

Ratu Naiqama had informed Pio Tabaiwalu, the party’s general secretary, of his decision to give the inquiry fairness, integrity and transparency. Mr Tabaiwalu could not be reached to comment.

It was unclear who chaired the meeting where the board resolved a “four-member investigating team to look into allegations brought to the board.”

It is understood Ratu Lote Yavuca, one of the two vice-presidents presided in place of Ratu Naiqama. The other vice-president, Dona Takalaiyale, is the traditional spokesperson (Matanivanua) for Ro Teimumu in her capacity as the Roko Tui Dreketi or paramount chief of Rewa Province and Burebasaga confederacy.

The report in question is highly critical of Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa’s leadership and the governance of the Opposition Office. It has split the party into two camps, the Bulitavu group and the Ro Teimumu side.

Mr Bulitavu and four other SODELPA MPs, Semesa Karavaki, Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki, Mikaele Leawere and Aseri Radrodro had written to the board calling for an inquiry.

Mr Bulitavu had threatened to resign as an MP if the process was not started by last Friday.  But he said he was instructed by Ratu Naiqama from Australia not to resign.

Ratu Naiqama, who arrived back in the country from Sydney on Wednesday, was meeting people at his Lami residence last night. He could not be reached to comment but it is understood Mr Bulitavu and Ratu Kilipati Vakalalabure, spent time with him.

In the last general election, Mr Bulitavu, Ratu Kilipati and Ratu Naiqama led from the front as they spearheaded SODELPA’s campaign in Vanua Levu. Ratu Kilipati led a traditional delegation that nominated Ratu Naiqama for SODELPA president.

There are three issues before the board, which the four investigators will look at. They are the controversial report, the letter from Mr Bulitavu’s group and a counter-letter of complaint against Mr Bulitavu from Mick Beddoes, the principal administrative officer in the Opposition Office.

Speaking on behalf of the management board yesterday lawyer Jolame Uludole, a board member, declined to release details of the board’s decision.

He said “until the investigation is completed we are in no position to release any further information.”

It is understood investigators will also look at the Nadave outcomes. The Nadave meeting, near Bau, at the beginning of this year, reviewed SODELPA’s election loss and recommended the way for the future.

Among other things the inquiry is likely to look at:

  • How the $225,000 parliamentary grant is handled and who is responsible
  • Whether public funds can be term deposited?
  • Governance of Opposition Office
  • Who in the party knew the Gaunavinaka Report before it was leaked?
  • Are Mr Bulitavu and other MPs who had written a letter to the board linked to the Gaunavinaka Report?
  • Why were they concerned with the issues raised in the report?
  • Allegation that the Caucus was not consulted on certain appointments
  • Did Ro Teimumu consult the Caucus before announcing in the media that she is Opposition Leader?
  • Did Ro Teimumu consult the Caucus on the appointment of Biman Prasad as the Public Accounts Committee chairperson?
  • Does Ro Teimumu consult the Caucus in appointing MPs for overseas trips?
  • How were the current Opposition staff recruited and what are their job descriptions? Were the posts advertised?
  • How were their salaries determined and what is the current salary scale of each of the Opposition staff?
  • Was Mick Beddoes responsible for the Opposition statement on the resignation of the military commander and appointment of Viliame Naupoto to act as military commander was “in order”?




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