NEWS

SODELPA AGM: Differences Over Venue Threaten Big Party Split

It is understood there is a move by the North group, comprising members from Vanua Levu and Taveuni, to nominate Sitiveni Rabuka as party leader again.
09 Mar 2019 12:25
SODELPA AGM: Differences Over Venue Threaten Big Party Split

A new row may be brewing over differences about the venue of the Social Democratic Liberal Party’s (SODELPA) annual general meeting scheduled for next month.

It is shaping up to be a North-South battle and could cause a serious split in the party, if not amicably resolved.

One group from the North is proposing that the AGM be held in Savusavu in June.

The second group is opposing it and wants it in Suva next month.

The management board will decide soon.

SODELPA’s general secretary, Adi Litia Qionibaravi, had not responded to questions sent to her when this edition went to press.
The election of office bearers will be the top item on the agenda.

It is understood there is a move by the North group, comprising members from Vanua Levu and Taveuni, to nominate Sitiveni Rabuka as party leader again.

Technically, he lost the role when SODELPA failed to unseat the Fiji- First Government in the 2018 General Election.
The party constitution stipulates that the party leader automatically loses the position when the party fails to win a general election.

That provision was part of sweep- ing changes in the amended constitution after the 2014 general election defeat.

Ro Teimumu Kepa was forced to relinquish the post after the amended constitution was approved in a special general meeting.
The constitution must first be amended to revert to the old provision before Mr Rabuka can be nominated and re-elected.

In the event that this cannot be done, the North Group is likely to nominate member of Parliament Dr Atonio Lalabalavu, son of party president and MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Whoever is the party leader will lead the party to the 2022 General Election.

The Savusavu backers are loyal supporters of Ratu Naiqama in his capacity as the Tui Cakau (Paramount Chief of Cakaudrove).

Mr Rabuka is also a traditional subject of the Tui Cakau.

The South Group is understood to comprise constituencies from Rewa and allies within the Burebasaga Confederacy, whose paramount chief is Ro Teimumu, Tailevu, Naitasiri and their Kubuna Confederacy allies. The Group members strongly feel that Savusavu would disadvantage them because of the distance and costs. It would greatly limit their capacity to vote for their candidates in terms of numbers. Besides the majority of SODELPA members are from Viti Levu.

The South Group wants to break the dominance of the Vanua Levu bloc at the top of the party hierarchy.

It suspects there is already a succession plan to keep most of the key positions in the hands of the North Group.
The election of office bearers will be done by secret ballot.

The South Group is mobilising its forces to convince the management board to hold the meeting in Suva.

Edited by Epineri Vula

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