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SODELPA Unity Attempt Revealed

  A SODELPA unity attempt is being planned to pardon all those linked to the controversial Gaunavinaka Report. It is understood that SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu is behind the
03 Dec 2015 10:43
SODELPA Unity Attempt Revealed

 

A SODELPA unity attempt is being planned to pardon all those linked to the controversial Gaunavinaka Report.

It is understood that SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu is behind the move to appease rival factions and unite the party. Ratu Naiqama could not be reached to comment last night.

As part of the move, Mick Beddoes, the principal administration officer in the Opposition Office, is being proposed to take over as general secretary to replace Pio Tabaiwalu.

But the attempt is expected to face stiff resistance from the reformers who want the processes in place to be followed to their logical conclusion.

The party’s management board will meet at Jubilee Hall in Toorak on Saturday morning to discuss the disciplinary committee’s report.

The committee had looked into the findings of an investigation team led by Anare Jale, which conducted an inquiry into the Gaunavinaka Report. The team endorsed most of the serious issues raised in the report. It has recommended that the SODELPA Opposition bank account be closed and the money transferred to the party’s main account.

The Gaunavinaka Report was critical of the governance of the Opposition Office and the leadership of Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa.

The disciplinary committee was supposed to have tabled its report last week but asked for a week’s extension.

Ratu Naiqama had recused himself from chairing the management board meetings because of his known close links with SODELPA MP and lawyer Mosese Bulitavu. Mr Bulitavu had called on Ro Teimumu to step down pending investigations after the Fiji Sun published excerpts from the Gaunavinaka Report. He and four other MPs, Semesa Karavaki, Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki, Aseri Radrodro and Mikaele Leawere, later filed an official complaint and called for an investigation. Mr Beddoes then countered with a complaint against Mr Bulitavu, refuting his allegations.

The exchange exposed the deep split that had developed between the reformers and the old guard after a new amended constitution was passed by a special general meeting. The amended constitution brought in sweeping changes including the separation of the roles of party leader and Opposition leader after an election loss. It effectively ended Ro Teimumu’s party leader role.

Mr Bulitavu’s gang of five represent the core group of reformers. The old guard is represented by Ro Teimumu, Mr Beddoes, Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca, MPs Ratu Sela Nanovo, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, Viliame Gavoka and Niko Nawaikula. Salote Radrodro, Josefa Dulakiverata and Anare Vadei stand in the middle.

Ratu Naiqama walks the tightrope as he plays the mediator role. That’s why he has pushed for reconciliation. Traditionally, as Tui Cakau, paramount chief of Cakaudrove, he will always align himself with Ro Teimumu because of their connection to Bau through their lineage. It was this Bauan link that Mr Bulitavu was highly critical of in an opinion column in the Fiji Sun. Mr Bulitavu was a key SODELPA campaigner in the last general election and Ratu Naiqama knows that Mr Bulitavu has the support of the Vanua Levu grassroots.

Mr Bulitavu is expected to be censured for his public outburst. Ro Teimumu has been cleared for the process she used to nominate Biman Prasad as Public Accounts Committee chairperson. But she has been cited for lack of consultation with the party.

Ratu Naiqama wants all these buried and for the party to maintain the status quo.

The reformers, however, want the changes to happen to help prepare the party for the 2018 general election.

Issues raised in the Gaunavinaka Report are part of the changes.

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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