Analysis

SODELPA Turns Right

Their election at Yaroi Village, Savusavu, yesterday was a coup by the party’s right wingers.
29 Jun 2019 11:00
SODELPA Turns Right
L-R: Vice President of the SODELPA Party Adi Litia Qionibaravi, newly appointed President Ro Filipe Tuisawau and Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

Ro Filipe Tuisawau’s election as president and Adi Litia Qionibaravi as vice-president completes the takeover of SODELPA by remnants of the former Conservative Alliance Maranitu Vanua (CAMV).

Their election at Yaroi Village, Savusavu, yesterday was a coup by the party’s right wingers.

In a carefully-crafted script that included holding the meetings in Savusavu, they outwitted the delegates from Viti Levu who were members of Laisenia Qarase’s SDL (Soqosoqo ni Duavata ni Lewenivanua) Party.

Using their home-based support, the Vanua Levu bloc got the numbers it needed to push through Ro Filipe and Adi Litia because they subscribe to its ideologies, although Ro Filipe is from Rewa and Adi Litia is from Verata in Tailevu.

Effectively, SODELPA‘s leadership becomes the surrogates of CAMV.

In February, 2006, CAMV was dissolved to merge with the senior partner, the SDL.

Former SODELPA president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu was Minister for Lands in the SDL Government of Mr Qarase. He was a senior CAMV official.

Ro Filipe admitted yesterday he was an adviser to CAMV. Adi Litia too had leanings towards CAMV policies.

SDL members in SODELPA, including Ro Teimumu Kepa, are understood to be unhappy with the latest development. They feel their advocacy for multiracialism has suffered a major blow because of Ro Filipe’s right-wing policies.

It’s a wait-and-see attitude for most them. Unless SODELPA gets it right it will stand no chance of winning the 2022 election, some say.

The door is wide open for defections to parties with similar political thinking such as Savenaca Narube’s Unity Fiji party. Unless there is a fightback to regain control of the party from Ro Filipe and group, the party is destined to fail miserably.

Ro Filipe told the traditional gathering to welcome him on Friday as Rewa Chief that the party would seek a reversal of the laws enacted by FijiFirst, including the 2013 Constitution.

The move to take over SODELPA began after the 2014 General Election. Ro Teimumu was seen as the major obstacle. The controversial Gaunavinaka Report targeted Ro Teimumu. It led to sweeping changes to the party constitution, which forced Ro Teimumu to step down as party leader.

She was even asked to step down by Mosese Bulitavu at the height of the controversy.

Ratu Naiqama’s explanation that the traditional ceremony for Ro Filipe was a matanigasau (Fijian apology) from them to her should have been performed for Ro Teimumu who was absent.

This is unfinished business and we will get to hear more of this in the coming months.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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