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Analysis: Petition, Disc To Bolster Rabuka’s Leadership Hold

Analysis: Petition, Disc To Bolster Rabuka’s Leadership Hold
SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka
August 01
11:38 2018

A petition pledging loyalty to party leader Sitiveni Rabuka has been the worst kept secret in SODELPA.

It has been circulated among provisional candidates for the 2018 General Election.

Some have signed, others have not.

The petition, it is understood, seeks to commit provisional candidates to support Mr Rabuka.

Attempts to get a response from the party yesterday were unsuccessful.

It is understood that those, who are part of Mr Rabuka’s inner circle had instigated the loyalty pledge petition to prepare for any leadership challenge.

It gives them time to get those who are undecided to make up their mind.

Mr Rabuka, aided by his supporters, has been working flat out to consolidate his leadership position.

Now a disc carrying Mr Rabuka’s statement on SODELPA policies is being circulated widely.

It costs $10, but it has reportedly run out. It doubles as a fundraising exercise. Mr Rabuka projects himself as leader and articulates his vision for the party.

The petition and the disc are calculated to enhance his leadership and make it very difficult to successfully mount a challenge against him.

Last month, at a Vatuwaqa pocket meeting, Mr Rabuka said confidently he would be the Opposition leader if the party lost.

He would, however, lose the party leadership as dictated by the party constitution.

He is probably banking on the support in the petition to carry him through to be the Opposition leader.

The validity of the petition comes into question after the election because only those who win their seats in Parliament will be there.

At any rate, the elected MPs will endorse the Opposition leader, not the party, under Parliament’s Standing Orders. The party may give a directive to the parliamentary caucus to endorse its choice like it did when Salote Radrodro and Mosese Bulitavu were appointed Whip and deputy Whip respectively.

But the parliamentary caucus has also set a precedent when it disobeyed a directive from party president, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, not to vote for a motion to increase MPs’ allowance.

The party did not take any action against the MPs although it had the power to discipline, suspend and even expel members of the party for defying party rules and directives.

The ‘Rabuka petition’, it is understood, is not a party decision. It is a project of  Rabuka loyalists who want to ensure that Mr Rabuka maintains his leadership.

It therefore does not have the same power as one endorsed by the party. If it was endorsed by the party, who endorsed it? Some party members say they are surprised that there is a petition being circulated.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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