Mix-up Worries Party Members

  Senior SODELPA officials closed ranks and went into damage control mode last night as the party grapples with its latest challenge. Members, speaking on the condi­tion of anonymity, said
12 Oct 2018 09:43
Mix-up Worries Party Members
From left: SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, general secretary Adi Litia Qionibaravi and SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Photos: Ronald Kumar


Senior SODELPA officials closed ranks and went into damage control mode last night as the party grapples with its latest challenge.

Members, speaking on the condi­tion of anonymity, said they were deeply concerned with the confu­sion over the deputy leader ap­pointment.

The debacle over whether presi­dent, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, is the deputy leader has reopened in­ternal debate over the party’s gov­ernance issues.

One member said: “It’s untimely and unfortunate. It exposes the party to the opposition and it could have a negative impact on our elec­tion prospects.”

The president of the Naitasiri SODELPA constituency, Kelemedi Naidiri, said he had resigned and joined Unity Fiji because he was dis­illusioned by the way the party was being run.

Ratu Naiqama last night hung up when a Fiji Sun reporter spoke to him.

Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka said last night: “Talk to the general sec­retary or the president.”

He had announced on FBC News that Ratu Naiqama was the deputy leader, not once but twice. The sec­ond time was when it was put to him that Adi Litia had said Ratu Naiqa­ma had not been appointed and he was still the president. Mr Rabuka also told a press conference in Suva on October 5, that the party consti­tution was amended “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 according to the amendment… as party presi­dent and deputy party leader,” he said.

Adi Litia told the Fiji Sun yester­day to refer to the party statement released on Monday and declined to comment further. The statement, signed by Ratu Naiqama, said: “I remain party president and not the deputy party leader. At this point in time SODELPA does not have a dep­uty party leader or even an acting deputy party leader – that will be a decision and a process to be under­taken by the party’s management board, under the provisions of the amended party constitution. I have spoken to the party leader, and he has asked me to make this clarifica­tion. The process and appointment of the deputy party leader is a deci­sion yet to be made by the manage­ment board.

“To clarify further, party members resolved at the General Assembly held on 1 September 2018, to amend the Constitution with the provision that the party president is the de­fault acting party leader in the event the position is vacated for any rea­son. This is a temporary position, until the Management Board is con­vened within seven days to appoint an Acting Party Leader and the act­ing appointment will cease upon the substantive appointment of a new Party Leader in accordance with this Constitution.”

Part of that statement quoting Ratu Naiqama was aired on FBC News on Wednesday night, specifi­cally that he was not deputy leader.

At about the same time, SODELPA Suva Constituency president Wati­soni Nata and provisional candidate Tanya Waqanika, while campaign­ing at the Villa Maria Settlement in Tamavua, said Ratu Naiqama was deputy party leader.

“We are going to get our Prime Minister (Mr Rabuka) first because our Prime Minister at the moment is going to court and we believe, SODELPA believes that he will be cleared, but we are prepared with another one,” Mr Nata had said.

“Tui Cakau (Ratu Naiqama) is the president and he is also the deputy leader. If he (Rabuka) falls, Tui Cakau moves in.”

In a new twist, the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, said the SODELPA Constitution “does not allow for an easy amendment without an annual general meet­ing.”

Mr Saneem said the provision for an amendment of the party consti­tutions for political parties was con­tained within their constitutions.

He said as far as he could recall there had to be a general meeting and two-thirds of the members had to agree for any amendments to the constitution.

Edited by Naisa Koroi



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