NEWS

Party War

  • It could spell end of political party • Acrimonious split between reformers and old guard spills into public An all-out war between the reformers and the old guard,
13 Dec 2015 19:51
Party War
SODELPA MP Ro Teimumu Kepa.

 

• It could spell end of political party
• Acrimonious split between reformers and old guard spills into public

An all-out war between the reformers and the old guard, which could spell the end of SODELPA, has broken out.

The first salvo was fired by Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa when she attacked fellow MPs Mosese Bulitavu and Aseri Radrodro on her Facebook page.

The Bulitavu-Radrodro camp is now preparing a report to be lodged with the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem. The report will request him to adjudicate on the dispute over the controversial Gaunavinaka Report because the party could not resolve it internally.

Mr Saneem declined to comment last night.

Under the Political Parties Decree, the Supervisor of Elections has the powers to deregister a political party. This is if it fails to comply with the provisions of the decree which include full disclosures of its annual financial statement and assets.

It’s the party’s financial management and general governance that have been at the centre of the acrimonious dispute between Ro Teimumu’s group which represents the old guard and the reformers led by lawyer Mr Bulitavu.

Those issues were highlighted by the Gaunavinaka Report. Since excerpts of the report were published by the Fiji Sun, the party had been split between the reformers and the old guard. The report was critical of the governance of the Opposition Office and the leadership of Ro Teimumu.

The reformers comprising Mr Bulitavu, Mikaele Leawere, Semasa Karavaki, Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki and Aseri Radrodro, successfully got the management board to conduct an inquiry.

Anare Jale was appointed to lead an investigations team.  The team, in its findings, discovered some “serious breaches” and recommended that Ro Teimumu and Opposition Whip Ratu Isoa Tikoca be expelled from the party. It also recommended that the Opposition Office bank account be closed and the balance of funds be transfered to the party’s main account.

But a disciplinary committee of Tupeni Baba, Emitai Boladuadua and a lawyer, tasked to recommend the disciplinary action to be taken, went against the Jale Report and cleared Ro Teimumu of any wrongdoing.

The management board decided to defer discussing the reports to the

New Year because of the two opposing views, but it cleared Mr Bulitavu and the other four MPs of any offences.

Mick Beddoes, the principal administration officer in theOpposition Office and a key Ro Teimumu aide, had complained against Mr Bulitavu’s comments. Mr Bulitavu had called on Ro Teimumu to step down pending an inquiry in the wake of the Gaunavinaka Report disclosure.

It was on the basis of the disciplinary committee report that Ro Teimumu went on Facebook and made her statement. It was apparently sent to the Fiji Times as well but not the Fiji Sun.

She claimed that the management board had brought disrepute to the party by ignoring the Baba & Boladuadua Report.

She said no one was forced to be a member of SODELPA and if they did not like the committee’s report they should resign from the party. She accused Mr Bulitavu and Mr Radrodro of being behind the Gaunavinaka Report. But the reformers who said they were bound by the party media rule, and could not comment publicly. A group member said though the management board was bigger than the disciplinary committee and accused Ro Teimumu of trying to create diversions away from the real issues.

Below are excerpts from the statement issued last Friday by Ro Teimumu.

  • MP Mosese Bulitavu, MP Aseri Radrodro and others were alleged to have made damaging and false accusations against her and others with their document (Gaunavinaka Report)
  • The Disciplinary Committee which involves senior members of the party and a respected member of the legal fraternity recommended the following:
  • nOn financial mismanagement, the members reaffirmed that the disciplinary committee claims were false and unsubstantiated, and dismissed all allegations “against me, Hon Ratu Isoa Tikoca, Hon Salote Radrodro, Laufitu Malani and Mick Beddoes.”
  • nThey recommended the expulsion of Hon Mosese Bulitavu.
  • The Disciplinary Committee, it was said, had full powers to make its recommendations and in the interests of justice and fairness and to maintain its impartiality the Management Board should have fully endorsed the recommendations.
  • But what followed was the Management Board’s ‘pardon’ of Hon Mosese Bulitavu for what was claimed to be his reprehensible and disloyal behaviour. The pardon came after northern delegates threatened to leave SODELPA if Hon Bulitavu was expelled as recommended.
  • The decision by the Board was made under ‘threat’ therefore flawed and compromised. They have allowed themselves to be blackmailed, it was claimed
  • Ro Teimumu then said ongoing disorder and dysfunctionality within the party executive must stop now, “we cannot and must not allow disloyal members and disruptive elements to hold the entire party to ransom.”

Edited by: Naisa Koroi

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