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ANALYSIS: Support For The Military First Big Sign Of Move Away From Old Party Platform

The first significant sign of policy shift in SODELPA is party leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s tacit support of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces. Although he did not come out and
01 Jul 2016 10:03
ANALYSIS: Support For The Military First Big Sign Of Move Away From Old Party Platform
The Fiji Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry Council warned that the shortage in machinists could prompt delays in the industry as performance expects to normalise following the initial challenges of the COVID-19 crisis.

The first significant sign of policy shift in SODELPA is party leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s tacit support of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

Although he did not come out and say directly “we support the RFMF” his defence of military spending implied it.

This is in direct contrast to the position of his predecessor, Ro Teimumu Kepa, the Opposition leader.

In the remaining two years before the next general election, SODELPA MPs who have been previously critical of the RFMF, might be forced to walk the tightrope.

They may have to tow Mr Rabuka’s line if they want to contest the election again.

Ro Teimumu, however, can be expected to continue with her position of resentment against the coups since Mr Rabuka’s 1987 military coups.

She has nothing to lose because she is not going to stand again in the next election.

Mr Rabuka recognises the importance of the RFMF to this country. It is an integral part of the fabric of our society at every level of our national life. It is also more than just the soldiers and Navy personnel. It’s the whole military family and extended relatives. He knows because he was once part of that family and he will remain a military man until his death. In politics, he realises that it does not help his cause if SODELPA speaks against the military because this is a numbers game. Every vote he can pick up is important in trying to unseat the FijiFirst Government.

One of the prominent party members to back Mr Rabuka is a former RFMF colonel and now businessman Sakiusa Raivoce.

He called on members in a Facebook post to accept Mr Rabuka’s apology of his past wrongs and his request to be forgiven. Mr Raivoce said they should accept him as leader and move forward.

“For, Pita and Mick please resign and leave the party alone like what Emele has done, and don’t criticize or condemn the new leader, it will not do any good to those of us who support the party. We can do without you and all those who oppose him.”

That’s an emphatic statement from someone who had financially supported the party and was close to the inner circle of Ro Teimumu.

SODELPA MPs would also have to moderate what they say to reflect the emphasis on multiracialism by Mr Rabuka if they want to be endorsed as candidates for the next election.

They might have to tone down their rightwing pro-indigenous rhetorics and move back to the more moderate middle ground which embraces all races. This could upset MPs like Niko Nawaikula who has spent quite a bit of time during his parliamentary term so far doing pro-indigenous advocacy work under the banner of the Fiji Native Tribal Congress.

Mr Rabuka has spoken generally of his vision. He has not disclosed all the details. But expect him to continue what he started doing in 1999 when his SVT party teamed up with Jai Ram Reddy’s National Federation Party on a multiracial platform. Although the voters rejected the union then Mr Rabuka believes it will work this time.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s success with FijiFirst based on the new Constitution gives him confidence. Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

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