Opinion | Politics

Fight Between Moderates And Conservative Right Wingers About To Get Even Uglier

The moderates did not budge when Mr Rabuka protested that he was legless without any caucus representatives in the meeting.
29 Jun 2020 10:58
Fight Between Moderates And Conservative Right Wingers About To Get Even Uglier
SODELPA member Sitiveni Rabuka. Photo: Kelera Sovasiga

Opinion:

The stage is set for more bitter acrimony between the two rival factions in suspension.

The shutting out of four suspended members of Parliament from the Special Management Board meeting at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva has exacerbated the deepening split.

Adi Litia Qionibaravi, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, Mosese Bulitavu and Salote Radrodro were refused entry into the meeting because the parliamentary caucus is also suspended with the party. So they and their 17 other colleagues had no legal authority to attend except on a different capacity to being a suspended MP. The only other exception is Sitiveni Rabuka. He was allowed to attend in his capacity as caretaker party leader.

But he decided to boycott the meeting and stand in solidarity with the Gang of Four who are part of the inner sanctum of the conservative right-wing and loyal supporters of him and his chief, the Tui Cakau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, who leads this faction.

The moderates did not budge when Mr Rabuka protested that he was legless without any caucus representatives in the meeting.

They demonstrated that they would comply with the law and provisions of the party constitution. There would be no exception to the rule and it would be consistent with their advocacy on good governance.

This is one area their predecessors fell short in as highlighted by Civil High Court Judge, Justice Vishwa Datt Sharma in his landmark judgment in a case where a disgruntled group of members led by Watisoni Nata took the suspended party and its officials to court over governance issues. It set in motion a series of events that led to the split and the suspension of the party.

The moderates do not want to repeat the same mistakes.

As they strive to set the suspended party house in order they will face resistance from those they have ousted.

In fact, it has already started. The lockout of the four had spiked feelings. If there was any doubt where  Mr Rabuka’s allegiance lies, he showed on Saturday that he was definitely with the conservative right-wingers.

He has publicly said that he will reapply for the party leader post. He is backed by the right-wingers who are pinning their hopes on him to regain control of the suspended party.

The other option, which is the last resort if their pushback fails, is to join a party or form a new party.

Speculation about a proposed new party is rife. It seems to be the only logical move by the right-wingers If they can’t work with the moderates. Prospects of joining another established party depend on the compatibility of the policies.

A new party is likely to focus on policies that appeal to the base instincts of the iTaukei.The strategy worked well in 2018 for suspended SODELPA although some of the issues preached on the campaign trail, particularly on iTaukei land and rights were a distortion of the truth.

The face-off with the moderates will begin in the parliamentary caucus where the right-wingers seem to have the numbers.

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