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Jockeying Starts For New Leader

Jockeying Starts For New Leader
May 26
12:20 2018

Names of potential candidates have emerged in the contest to replace Sitiveni Rabuka as SODELPA leader.

This is in preparation for SODELPA losing the 2018 general election.

If SODELPA loses, Mr Rabuka loses his party leadership role too as dictated by the party constitution.

The party has not passed the 19 per cent mark in the regular Fiji Sun-Razor opinion poll. In the latest poll, SODELPA has dropped from 19 per cent last week to 15 per cent this week.

In the front running for the SODELPA leadership are Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and current sitting members of Parliament, Aseri Radrodro, Salote Radrodro, Viliame Gavoka and Niko Nawaikula.

She could regain the post she lost to Mr Rabuka and retain her Opposition leader job.

For remnants of the anti-Ro Teimumu mob, a compromise candidate is Mr Radrodro, the Opposition spokesperson on the economy. If they are looking for a younger leader with fresh and innovative ideas, Mr Radrodro could be the go-to person.

Then there is Opposition SODELPA Whip Mrs Radrodro who has performed reasonably well. She is outspoken and presents herself well.

Mr Gavoka is perhaps the best speaker in the Opposition camp. He is articulate and has an uncanny ability to think on his feet.

Lawyer Niko Nawaikula has been trending in the Fiji Sun-Razor public opinion poll in the choice of deputy Prime Minister as the third preferred choice. While his debating style comes under a lot of scrutiny in Parliament, he is visible in standing up for the Opposition.

So this is the first list of prospective candidates in the order of their standing:

1) Ro Teimumu Kepa

2) Aseri Radrodro

3) Salote Radrodro

4) Viliame Gavoka

5) Niko Nawaikula

This is only a provisional list but it is likely to grow when the general election results are determined.

The internal SODELPA dynamics could change, depending on the outcome of Mr Rabuka’s court case.

The other issue is the nomination of the Opposition leader after the election. Will it be decided by the party or the party’s parliamentary caucus?

It is assumed the person leading the party into the election, will become the Opposition leader. In this case, it will be Mr Rabuka although he will lose his party leader role. In the 2014 election, Ro Teimumu polled 49,485 votes. Because the party was operating on the basis of the old party constitution, she did not lose her party leader role. That was changed two years ago and she was forced to relinquish it.

But she stood out for SODELPA in 2014. She was way ahead of other SODELPA candidates on votes won. The closest SODELPA candidate to her was Mr Nawaikula who scored 7348 votes.

In this election, the contest within SODELPA is expected to be more interesting. Ro Teimumu may still come out tops.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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