New Twist In SODELPA Row Over Allowance Hike

The SODELPA rift over MPs’ allowance hike took a new twist last night when a Sitiveni Rabuka email was used to back the decision to vote for the increase. Mr
06 Oct 2016 11:00
New Twist In  SODELPA Row Over Allowance Hike
ODELPA Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka after the meeting last night. Photo: Selita Bolavanua

The SODELPA rift over MPs’ allowance hike took a new twist last night when a Sitiveni Rabuka email was used to back the decision to vote for the increase.

Mr Rabuka, the party leader, chaired the meeting at party headquarters in Suva, to try to resolve differences over the allowance,

He said after the meeting when asked what his stand was on the allowance issue: “That will tantamount to disloyalty”

He said “We have a  resolution to think about with the party president.”

“I will not make any release until it has been discussed. The increase in allowance for Members of Parliament was also part of the discussion,” Mr Rabuka said.

He said the letter from the party president, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu to request SODELPA Opposition MPs not to support the increase in allowance was also discussed and all those would be part of the communique.

Party president, Ratu Naiqama, said last night that general secretary Adi Litia Qionibaravi, would issue a media statement. Ratu Naiqama did not attend the meeting. He declined to comment why he did not attend.

But it is understood that he let Mr Rabuka run the meeting because it dealt with operational matters.

Ratu Naiqama oversees policy issues, which explains why he issued that contentious letter as a matter of policy.

It is also understood that Mr Rabuka’s email and Ratu Naiqama’s letter had created that tension and Ratu Naiqama did not want to aggravate it.

The exact wording of the Rabuka email is not clear but it’s interpretation has created the  division.

Adi Litia could not be reached to comment last night and no statement had arrived when this edition had gone to press.

The row started after the MPs received a letter from suspended MP Ratu Naiqama, on the morning of the allowance vote.

It gave MPs a directive to vote against a Government motion for the allowance hike.

But the caucus had already decided to vote for the motion.

Opposition SODELPA Whip Salote Radrodro and her deputy Mosese Bulitavu did not vote to show they did not support the motion.

The rest of the MPs present voted for the motion. Ratu Naiqama had said in the letter that anyone going against the directive would have to explain to the party.

Last night the MPs who fronted explained their reasons. One was the allowance hike would help them carry out their party work better.

Secondly, Mr Rabuka had given his blessings through the email.

Apparently this had put the party leadership in a precarious position.

Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa, who led the caucus defiance, was absent because she had led the Rewa delegation to present its reguregu to the late Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, the Roko Tui Bau.

The response by MPs gives an interesting insight into the troubles at SODELPA house when asked to comment last night:

nRatu Sela Nanovo: No comment. Wait for the president

nRo Kiniviliame Kiliraki: No comment

nAseri Radrodro: He walked away without saying anything

nRatu Suliano Matanitobua: Wait for the president

nSemesa Karavaki: Talk to the president

nAnare Vadei: Talk to the president

nJiosefa Dulakiverata: Talk to the president

nNiko Nawaikula: You know very well I am the type of person who loves to comment when people ask me question. But I am not authorised to make a comment.


Edited by Maraia Vula


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