Kepa Will Apply: Official

A storm is brewing over SODELPA’s party leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s statement that Ro Teimumu Kepa has not applied for a party ticket yet to contest the general election. Ro Teimumu, the
23 Feb 2018 12:25
Kepa Will Apply: Official
Ro Teimumu Kepa

storm is brewing over SODELPA’s party leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s statement that Ro Teimumu Kepa has not applied for a party ticket yet to contest the general election.

Ro Teimumu, the Opposition leader, “intends to apply”, said an official in her office who spoke on her behalf.

“She is not joining any other political party,” he said, in direct response to Mr Rabuka’s earlier statement.

Mr Rabuka had said: “We are not aware as yet of which party Ro Teimumu will be joining. She has not told SODELPA that she wants to run with SODELPA in the coming election. She has not yet applied.”

The Opposition Office official said: “The SODELPA management board has agreed that when the application closes, Ro Teimumu Kepa and SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu have the privilege that they can apply even if the application date has closed. They will go through the normal required processes and procedures as other candidates.”

The official said Ro Teimumu had not applied yet because she was busy with her official engagements.

“She has been travelling overseas as part of her Constitutional role. But she is intending to apply for the SODELPA candidacy,” he said.

“After the takeover in 2006, Ro Teimumu Kepa has been an active member of SDL. In 2013, as we prepared for the 2014 General Election, she was engaged with SODELPA and she wants the party to continue to go in a path where SODELPA can be the Government.”

A SODELPA member close to Ro Teimumu’s inner circle said the chief was not amused with Mr Rabuka’s remarks especially when she heeded the call of the vanua of Burebasaga. She put on hold her retirement plan and acquiesced to the vanua request to stand in the 2018 General Election.

It is understood that her growing number of loyal supporters are not happy with Mr Rabuka’s remarks. They recognise the hours she is putting into the campaign for the party across the country.

One of them said: “She is campaigning generally for the party, explaining the policies that it stands for. She is one of the pioneers of the party and to even suggest that she could apply to another party is an insult to our intelligence.”

It is understood that Ro Teimumu was reluctant to stand again because of what she went through in these last four years. And if she was to stand again she would want to see a reconciliation in the party, to discuss all the issues that split the party at one stage, forgive one another and start afresh. She was wary of going through another four years with this bogey hanging over her head.

One strong supporter said: “She was backstabbed, vilified and insulted. She is a paramount chief and widely respected. So we can understand her feelings when she is hurt.”

The comments were in reference to the bitter division within SODELPA’s parliamentary caucus after the 2014 general election. It started with her decision to nominate National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad as the Opposition Economy spokesperson and giving the three NFP MPs front bench seats. She was criticised by some caucus members for ignoring SODELPA MPs.

This was followed by the exposure of the controversial Gaunavinaka Report, which was critical of her leadership and the administration of the Opposition Office.

The fallout from it split the party and led to bitter acrimony. An internal inquiry that followed pardoned both sides. But it did not heal the wound.

It culminated in the opposing group winning the battle for sweeping changes to the party constitution in a special general meeting. One of the new provisions is that the party leader at a general election would automatically lose the post if the party lost an election.

Six months after the amended constitution was passed, she relinquished her party leader role for losing the 2014 general election.

Since then she has been pressing for a reconciliation but to no avail.

Edited by Naisa Koroi


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