Analysis: Why Ro Teimumu Will Not Join Proposed Hope Party Now
Those who are hoping that Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa will join the proposed HOPE Party soon may have to wait longer.
Ro Teimumu would have to resign from SODELPA and Parliament to become a member of the proposed party.
Some of her close associates say that won’t happen now. She is expected to ride out her current term.
Even though she is no longer SODELPA leader and survived an internal bickering over her leadership, she has settled in nicely and enjoying her Opposition Leader role, fulfilling her responsibilities.
If she quits now she will lose her $150,000 a year salary plus chauffeur-driven vehicle and all the other benefits including allowances and travel.
She is more effective and productive inside Parliament, particularly if she is going to wind down on politics and not contest next year’s general election.
President Roko Tupou Draunidalo and vice-president of the proposed HOPE Party, Pita Waqavonovono, and their colleagues will have to wait until next year when Parliament is dissolved before the election to find out whether she will join them.
The core support for the proposed HOPE Party comprises the loyal and close supporters of Ro Teimumu who stood by her in one of her most difficult times in the wake of the exposure of the controversial Gaunavinaka Report.
The report written after an audit of the Opposition Office, was critical of her leadership and the office administration.
It split the party right down the middle between a group led by lawyer and MP Mosese Bulitavu and Ro Teimumu.
While SODELPA had resolved the dispute by pardoning those involved, wounds have not totally healed. Mr Bulitavu’s group had played a key role in the amendment of the party constitution to strengthening SODELPA’s preparation for the election.
Under the sweeping changes, Ro Teimumu was to step down as party leader because of the 2014 election loss. A new party leader was to be elected. Mr Bulitavu’s group had pushed for the reform in a bid to position the party to win next year’s election. Sitiveni Rabuka was subsequently elected as the new party leader.
Ro Teimumu and her group including the party’s wing were not happy. This was the man they opposed in 2014 to be a candidate and party leader because of his lead role in the 1987 military coup.
Mr Waqavonovono and Mick Beddoes, Ro Teimumu’s former adviser resigned from SODELPA in protest. They have now teamed up with Roko Tupou, another strong critic of Mr Rabuka. Roko Tupou resigned as president of the National Federation Party. She felt uncomfortable with the overtures Mr Rabuka was making to other political parties including the NFP about proposed unity moves. She wanted no part in any Rabuka talks.
Mr Bulitavu, a Rabuka supporter, and Roko Tupou have clashed on twitter over her resignation from the NFP.
Their supporters have rallied behind them. One Roko Tupou fan said at least she resigned properly, following protocols. Mr Bulitavu was accused of trying to undermine Ro Teimumu’s leadership in the fallout from the Gaunavinaka Report.
For Ro Teimumu all these are history now. She has been through a lot in SODELPA and it will come as no surprise if she bows out quietly next year.
While she has friends in the proposed HOPE Party, it is unclear at this stage whether she will join them.