Analysis | Opinion

Analysis: Lynda’s Political Journey To Come Under Scrutiny

L ynda Tabuya had tried to salvage her sagging political rating in peace talks with the Fiji Labour Party last year. She was then leader of the People’s Democratic Party.
29 Jun 2018 10:00
Analysis: Lynda’s Political Journey To Come Under Scrutiny
Lynda Tabuya.

L

ynda Tabuya had tried to salvage her sagging political rating in peace talks with the Fiji Labour Party last year.

She was then leader of the People’s Democratic Party.

She knew that PDP and FLP were going nowhere and the only logical thing to do was to reunite and fight the 2018 general election under one banner if they wanted to win seats.

In the 2014 general election neither party won a seat.

Political scientist Professor Vijay Naidu had told a PDP meeting after the election that it was ridiculous having two parties representing workers.

PDP was formed as a breakaway party from FLP after Fiji Trades Union Congress general secretary and first PDP leader Felix Anthony quit FLP to form PDP because he did not like FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry’s leadership style.

When Mr Anthony resigned as PDP leader, it opened the door for reconciliation with FLP.

Ms Tabuya led the peace talks. It was agreed that they would contest the election under the FLP banner. But the talks collapsed when they disagreed on who should be the leader.

This week, Fiji Sun journalist Losirene Lacanivalu emailed Ms Tabuya and asked whether she personally proposed her name as a leader.

Ms Tabuya responded saying, “I can confirm that there were talks between FLP and PDP to unite and contest under one banner, FLP.”

She said: “This was happening before any solid talks with SODELPA and the MOU. I did not personally propose to be the leader of the United FLP, it was decided by the management board of PDP. The discussions came to a standstill and was abandoned by PDP because the management board felt that our only condition to unite was not going to be honoured.

“This condition to unite was for Mahendra Chaudhry to step down as party leader.  It was a decision by the management board who felt that nothing was forthcoming about Mr Chaudhry stepping down.

“Therefore it decided to abandon talks and decided to explore other options.”

PDP and Ms Tabuya were naïve to think that they could go in and tell Mr Chaudhry, a political veteran and survivor, to step down.

The plan was doomed to fail from the beginning. Mr Chaudhry would not allow a novice like Ms Tabuya to end his political career.

The other options available to Ms Tabuya included going with SODELPA. Ms Tabuya held talks with SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka who, at the time, was exploring ways for the Opposition political parties to form a united front against the FijiFirst Government.

Coalition was among the options. But the idea was bound to fail because of the major differences in policies among the parties.

When Ms Tabuya proposed that PDP would partner with SODELPA under a MOU, Mr Rabuka embraced it. PDP would not contest the election. Instead it’s members would support SODELPA candidates.

Mr Rabuka supported it because it would show that the MOU was a form of accomplishment, claiming that the management board had given him the mandate to look for political alliances.

Ms Tabuya went on to join SODELPA and was endorsed as a national provisional candidate, joining an elite few given the privilege to campaign anywhere in Fiji. The other provisional candidates are only allowed to campaign in the provincial constituencies that nominated them.

In the same special general meeting, PDP vice-president Vijay Singh was elected SODELPA vice-president, without resigning from PDP. He was later stood down after the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem ruled Mr Singh had breached the Political Parties Act and referred the matter to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC).

Straight after that December special general meeting, she and Mr Rabuka signed the controversial MOU.

While PDP’s future looks increasingly bleak, Ms Tabuya’s political fortunes have soared.

It is also interesting to see how Mr Rabuka handles his relationship with Mr Chaudhry over Ms Tabuya.

Her political journey is likely to come up for discussion at the party’s annual general meeting at Namoli Village in Lautoka tomorrow.

TOMORROW: The conclusion

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback:  nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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