Four In Top Party Role Race?

Ro Filipe, Ro Teimumu and Ratu Naiqama declined to comment when approached in Parliament yesterday.
21 Jun 2019 10:15
Four In Top Party Role Race?
L-R: Ro FIlipe Tuisawau, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, Ro Teimumu Kepa and Viliame Gavoka.

Testy email exchanges have erupted over who should be the new president of SODELPA.

They have come more than a week before the party’s annual General Assembly at Yaroi Village, Savusavu, on June 28.

Names of four sitting members of Parliament, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, Ro Teimumu Kepa, Viliame Gavoka and outgoing president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu have been bandied about.

Ro Filipe, Ro Teimumu and Ratu Naiqama declined to comment when approached in Parliament yesterday. Mr Gavoka could not be reached.

The Suva Constituency had proposed Ratu Naiqama. If he accepts the nomination then Mr Gavoka becomes a vice-president. If Ratu Naiqama stays retired then Mr Gavoka is Suva’s choice for president.

A Mitieli Moce of SODELPA USA Tovata branch had questioned Watisoni Nata, president of the Suva Constituency, in an email exchange “why nominate the Tui Cakau when his resignation has been approved?”

He suggested that Ratu Naiqama return to the vanua where he could be better utilised. As Tui Cakau, he is the paramount chief of Cakaudrove and heads the Tovata Confederacy.

Mr Moce also suggested that Mr Nata consult the constituency members.

Mr Nata said in an email exchange that if Ratu Naiqama declined their nomination then the question now “is which matanitu vanua is next.”

“If it’s Burebasaga, the Roko Tui Dreketi (Paramount chief of the confederacy and Rewa Ro Teimumu Kepa)…the alternative is Mr Gavoka. This is a proposal open for discussion,” Mr Nata said.

He took exception to an email message by Ro Filipe, also another Rewa chief, who said: “Vinaka Mr Nata. Obviously, one of the major issues to be dealt with moving forward for SODELPA would be E-communications protocols and etiquette (policy, training and breaches).”

Ro Filipe is understood to be responding to Mr Nata’s complaints against MP Mosese Bulitavu.

Mr Nata said in the email: “Mr Tuisawau, if you do not like my emails, remove yourself from the circulation. I did not create this circulation.”

Ro Filipe has apparently been proposed by the Vanua Levu bloc. He is Ro Teimumu’s nephew. But there are some members of the party who think he is still a political novice.

One member said coming in from the political wilderness, trying to teach etiquette, to running for president of SODELPA, “is a joke.”

The acting vice-president, Anare Jale, said the General Assembly was an important meeting for members. They will elect a president and general secretary to replace MP Adi Litia Qionibaravi who has stepped down. The management board will meet before the General Assembly to discuss important issues like the Arbiter’s Report.

The arbiter, Mesake Nawari, was appointed to investigate the grievances of disgruntled members like Youth president Jope Koroisavou and founding member Mere Samisoni.

Mr Koroisavou submitted a raft of questions about governance issues and transparency. Ms Samisoni was particularly critical of the conduct of the party headquarters in the 2018 General Election.

TOMORROW: Analysis

Feedback: neelam.prasad@fijisun.com.fj

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