Concern Over Military Stand Of Party Leader
SODELPA Leader Sitiveni Rabuka has raised eyebrows in the party with his response to Pio Tikoduadua’s defection to the National Federation Party.
Mr Rabuka said yesterday while he respected Mr Tikoduadua’s views he wished the former FijiFirst minister had not condemned Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.
Since his election as party leader, some party officials have been observing Mr Rabuka’s reluctance to criticise the military and its officers (serving and retired).
In this case Mr Rabuka seems to be of the view that Mr Tikoduadua should have just left quietly instead of making noises and targeting Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, a former commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.
It’s no secret that Mr Rabuka disagrees with those politicians who take an adversarial position against the military.
Those close to him say that he strongly feels that a positive approach could be more beneficial to the party.
No doubt he has been strongly influenced by his military experience and the fact that he has been often referred to the father of coups. He led the first and second military coups in 1987.
One party insider says: “Once a military officer will always remain a military officer.”
He recites the old wartime ballad “Old soldiers never die they simply fade away.”
He says that as party leader Mr Rabuka should be able to speak freely on any issues, military or non-military.
There is also a feeling in some quarters of the party that it was wrong to criticise Mr Tikoduadua’s remarks against the PM.
“FijiFirst and Mr Bainimarama are the common enemy and target of the Opposition parties including the NFP,” he said.
Some party members say Mr Rabuka was expressing himself as a leader and the same thing could happen to him.
He would feel aggrieved. Mr Rabuka has said that there were people in the party who did not like him and his involvement in the 1987 coups. His predecessor and Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa has openly expressed her dislike of Mr Rabuka because of his coups.
A youth group led by Pita Waqavonovono had left the party to join proposed HOPE Party because they did not support Mr Rabuka for the same reason.
While he may be happy with what he described as a successful US visit, he has two major issues he faces at home.
One is to work out a manifesto that has a wide appeal.
Second is to allay any concern over his stand on military issues.