NEWS

NFP Back In Spotlight

ANALYSIS:The National Federation Party’s junior partner role in the Opposition is likely to come up for review after recent political events. Its absence from unity talks with other parties including
28 Jan 2017 11:00
NFP Back In Spotlight
Roko Tupou Draunidalo.

ANALYSIS:The National Federation Party’s junior partner role in the Opposition is likely to come up for review after recent political events.

Its absence from unity talks with other parties including SODELPA, its senior partner in Parliament, has not escaped the discerning eyes of Opposition politicians.

Within SODELPA, questions are being asked about NFP’s declared position that it will fight the 2018 general election on its own. That means it will not have any type of arrangement, formal or informal, with another party on a united front to contest the election.

NFP leader Biman Prasad had made the statement before Roko Tupou Draunidalo resigned as party president.

It was aimed at appeasing Ms Draunidalo who had publicly made known her personal dislike of SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka because he led the military coups of 1987. But it came too late.

The NFP made the fatal mistake of opening the door a little for some talks with Mr Rabuka who had initiated unity talks with Opposition parties. No formal talks took place but it unsettled Ms Draunidalo and led to her decision to step down.

With her out of the picture, will the NFP change its mind and join the coalition talks between SODELPA, Fiji Labour Party and United Fiji Freedom Party?

All the Opposition parties realise that they do not stand a chance of toppling the FijiFirst Government if they are fragmented. The only way to have a hope is through a grand coalition.

The NFP fought the 2014 election on its own and won three seats. It joined SODELPA in Parliament after the election when it was offered the chairmanship of the Public Accounts Committee and front row seating.

This has been an issue of contention within SODELPA ranks and has contributed to the destabilisation of the party.

Some party members questioned the decision to elevate the NFP when it did not want to work with SODELPA.

This was followed by the NFP’s decision not to join SODELPA in its boycott of the address by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014.

Mr Rabuka, replacing Opposition leader Ro Teimumu as party leader, has come in with a new slate. He wants to start fresh, bury the hatchet and get everyone in the opposition parties to work together for a common goal – to unseat the FijiFirst Government.

He knows they have to swallow their pride, leave aside their differences of the past and come together.

There are many issues that require resolving before any unity can work. Fundamentally, they include different policies and ideologies.

That’s the major challenge right now. Can they draw a list of common interests that is longer than a list of differences?

Mr Rabuka, FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry, and UFFP leader Jagath Karunaratne have continued talks in forging a coalition of opposition political parties to contest the election.

Mr Chaudhry had said that the idea of a grand coalition was well received because the people saw it as a great opportunity.

In the latest meeting the three party leaders also resolved to approach other parties who have not joined them.

The NFP would be one of them. The ball is in its court now to review its position.

The top question is: If the NFP joins the three parties for a coalition, will it improve its election prospects? Or will it backfire?

 

 

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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