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ANALYSIS: New Way For SODELPA?

Opposition and SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and close allies are charting a new way forward for the party. But inside party sources say the move, designed to boost SODELPA’s
27 Jun 2015 11:51
ANALYSIS: New Way For SODELPA?

Opposition and SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and close allies are charting a new way forward for the party.

But inside party sources say the move, designed to boost SODELPA’s chances of winning the 2018 general election, could face a backlash from the party conservatives.

They say there is a deliberate move to change the party image by involving non-iTaukei in some key positions. This is a strategic move planned to mirror FijiFirst’s inclusive policies.

Ro Teimumu’s group feels strongly there needs to be some tangible evidence that SODELPA, branded as an iTaukei party, also welcomes other races to join the party.

Party sources say it would not come as a surprise if a non-iTaukei is nominated as the new president of SODELPA in the annual general meeting in Suva today.

Silivenusi Waqausa is understood to have stepped down as president. He took responsibility for the party’s loss in last year’s general election after party executives carried out a post mortem in Nadave, Bau, Tailevu, earlier this year. There were feelings expressed in that meeting that those who lead the party to an election defeat should make way for others to have a go with new ideas. Mr Waqausa, a former military officer, put his hand up and accepted responsibility.

A non-iTaukei president today will continue what party sources say is the gradual re-branding of the party. The appointment of Mick Beddoes as the Principal Administrative Officer of the Opposition Office, Ro Teimumu’s endorsement of Biman Prasad, National Federation Party leader as the Opposition Finance spokesperson and the appointment of Suva lawyer Richard Naidu as her nominee in the Constitutional Offices Commission are part of her vision for the way forward for SODELPA. But she has enraged several staunch SODELPA supporters who felt that all those positions could have been filled by equally qualified iTaukei.

Ro Teimumu realises that for SODELPA to realistically have a chance of winning the next election, it must make adjustments. The big one is winning enough non-iTaukei votes to score an upset victory against FijiFirst. To do it, it must attract prominent non-iTaukei to the party in whatever capacity.

Ro Teimumu’s group believes that if they can convince the voters that their push for iTaukei affirmative action is not racist and backed by prominent non-iTaukei, they can win the next election.

But inside sources say the idea has struggled to find traction yet in the party. Some party members are wary, if not confused, by the move to involve non-iTaukei in important positions. They cannot reconcile it with the party policies of championing the indigenous cause. This issue has led some to question Ro Teimumu’s suitability to continue as party leader.

Her position was also supposed to come up for review in this AGM but it has been deferred for one year to allow the party to consolidate its position. It is understood that the National Executive which had set the agenda for today’s meeting, had dropped the party leader issue because it would not look good for the party.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 




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