Opinion

Opinion: Constitutional Fork Raises Questions On Leadership

PART 1: This is the opening part of a series of articles looking at the challenges facing SODELPA as it builds up to its annual general meeting at Namoli in
26 Jun 2018 14:15
Opinion: Constitutional Fork Raises Questions On Leadership
Sitiveni Rabuka

PART 1: This is the opening part of a series of articles looking at the challenges facing SODELPA as it builds up to its annual general meeting at Namoli in Lautoka on Saturday

When SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka declared that as party leader he will automatically be­come the Prime Minister if his party wins the 2018 General Election, he raised eye­brows internally.

He is partly correct because there is a catch.

Section 16 (1) (d) says the party leader who successfully leads the party to win the general election with a more than 50 per cent of the seats in Parliament shall become the Prime Minister in accordance with section 93 (2)of the 2013 Constitution of Fiji and automatically assumes the po­sition of Parliamentary Leader.

But the fork is in Section 16 (1) (e). It says the party leader normally forms Govern­ment with or without the support of other political parties and/or individual elected members, subject to him or her receiv­ing the majority support of elected party members in Parliament and he/she shall become the Prime Minister in accordance with Section 93 (2) of the Constitution of Fiji and automatically assumes the posi­tion of Parliamentary Leader.

The whole process requires the major­ity support of elected party members in Parliament before Mr Rabuka can become Prime Minister and Parliamentary Leader.

His interpretation as automatic choice of PM because he is party leader is correct up to this point.

From here onwards, he needs the major­ity support of party MPs. What if he fails to get this support? It’s a condition that must be met. That’s the grey area or the fork. So it is not as clear cut as it looks and sounds.

With the way things are going at the mo­ment, Mr Rabuka could still face the lead­ership challenge by those who are not hap­py with his style.

He has built a small group of party mem­bers who are loyal and close to him like Lynda Tabua.

In doing so other members feel alienated by Mr Rabuka.

They also feel that Ms Tabuya had been given preferential treatment, allowing her to rise quickly through the ranks.

In a recent fundraiser, it is under under­stood that he praised Ms Tabuya for help­ing to raise the profile of SODELPA.

Some in the party have resented her growing status over those who have been there from the beginning.

Mr Rabuka has defended her realising that there is a group in the party that does not like her.

But, questions could be asked at the AGM about Ms Tabuya since she resigned as leader of the People’s Democratic Party.

She has become Mr Rabuka’s closest ally. She knows that her political future rests with Mr Rabuka. It’s in her interests that Mr Rabuka remains leader.

If the party loses the election, the “party leader position is deemed to be vacant.” The party constitution says the “elected members of Parliament shall elect a parlia­mentary leader from among themselves”.

He or she will be nominated as Opposi­tion leader and Parliament will elect him or her.

When SODELPA becomes a minority par­ty in Opposition the MPs will choose their parliamentary leader.

Latest opinions polls show that SODEL­PA would remain in opposition after the 2018 General Election – it’s biggest chal­lenges coming from inside the party.

Tomorrow: Part 2

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj



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