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Ratu Naiqama Back in SODELPA Team

As earlier alluded to in the Fiji Sun, the Tui Cakau and SODELPA president  Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, has put on hold his retirement plans. He will now contest the November
06 Oct 2018 12:31
Ratu Naiqama Back in SODELPA Team
Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu

As earlier alluded to in the Fiji Sun, the Tui Cakau and SODELPA president  Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, has put on hold his retirement plans.

He will now contest the November 14 General Election with his son Dr Ratu Antonio Lalabalavu, who was named earlier as a provisional candidate for SODELPA.

Ratu Naiqama has done exactly what Ro Teimumu Kepa, the Opposition leader and Roko Tui Dreketi,  did earlier.

It is believed that if the Fijian Elections Office confirms the Lalabalavus’  candidacy, it will be the first time that a father and son are contesting a general election from the same party.

It has raised eyebrows in the party because in the 2014 General Election, Anare Jale, a party vice-president and his wife Emele had applied for SODELPA tickets but it was rejected on ethical grounds. Only one of them was allowed to stand.

If SODELPA forms the new government it is feared that ethical issues could arise and cloud governance matters.

In the case of Mosese Bulitavu who was among the four named yesterday to complete SODELPA’s lineup of 51 provisional candidates, his father, Nemani Bulitavu, named earlier, had to withdraw.

Apart from Ratu Naiqama and Mr Bulitavu, the other two are former international rugby rep and former senior civil servant Joape Kuinikoro and business executive Isiromi Bayameyame.

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka who announced the names said when Ratu Naiqama announced his retirement from politics, he had something else in mind.

“When they made those announcements, both Ratu Naiqama and Ro Teimumu Kepa, I had my own reservations because we do not have the Great Council of Chiefs in place. I had hope that some of the paramount chiefs of Fiji would still be involved in politics to be the voice of the vanua and people’s assembly,” Mr Rabuka said.

“In our case, he had remained true to that declaration until the issue of my court case came up where we had to rely on his position as party president to take the party forward in case there is some problem in my court case.

“We had to be ready. We had to amend the constitution to allow for a deputy party leader and the most natural person to come in as deputy party leader is our party president. We had to change our constitution and allow him to run as party president and deputy party leader.”

When asked if the party was banking on the two paramount chiefs in the party to get support in the coming General Election, Mr Rabuka said they were banking on the national candidates attracting the national vote and he was one of them.

“Turaga Bale na Tui Cakau is in fact also one of them because we have already done the ground work. For Dr Ratu Antonio Rabici Lalabalavu – his son to represent Cakaudrove East. He had done a lot of work in that area. So, bringing back Ratu Naiqama entails more work at the national level. We are hoping they would get a lot of votes, but the concept now is clearer with voters. That we have a mix of regional representatives of candidates as well as national,” Mr Rabuka said.

He said the 51 provisional candidates were the best from all the applicants who applied.

“These are the best that we have from the number that we had received after the advertisement for applications to come in and we have picked, and this is in consultation with the constituency committees. We have done the interviews and we have taken the results of the interviews to the constituency council,” he said.

“Next week we will take our 51 nominees to the Fijian Elections Office for submission.”

Edited by Nemani Delaibatiki

Feedback:  wati.talebula@fijisun.com.fj

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