Analysis

SODELPA Ponders the Choice of President: Anare Jale Or Vijay Singh?

This is the first time that it is in this predicament where the party is like a rudderless ship floating in a stormy sea.
09 May 2020 14:53
SODELPA Ponders the Choice of President: Anare Jale Or Vijay Singh?
Anare Jale and Vijay Singh.

SODELPA’s immediate challenge right now is to choose the president.

The president is constitutionally mandated to chair the management board, the governing body of the embattled party.

There are two candidates, ousted vice-president Anare Jale and vice-president Vijay Singh.

Technically, Mr Jale can be considered because he was acting president before the botched annual general meeting at Yaroi Village, Savusavu in June last year. He was acting after Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu resigned.

He was re-elected vice-president at Yaroi.

His and others’ election was invalid after High Court judge Justice Vishwa Datt Sharma ruled that the AGM was null and void.

Adi Litia Qionibaravi was also elected vice-president.

She has been stood down and now reverts back to her former position as general secretary.

Mr Jale can return as acting president. But Mr Singh is untainted by the court case and should be elevated to president.

If he becomes acting president, the former People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president will become the First Indo-Fijian to head a predominantly iTaukei political party.

He came to SODELPA through a deal struck between Mr Rabuka and former PDP leader Lynda Tabuya prior to the 2018 election.

But he is still in Australia recovering after a medical treatment. He cannot return to Fiji anyway because of the border restriction.

The party’s management board can do a video conference call with Mr Singh if he is up to it to organise the next AGM.

Under the party’s constitution, the AGM should be in June. Circumstances make it impossible to hold it in June this year.

The party should have sent out notice for expressions of interest for motions and nominations for office bearers four months prior to the AGM. That period has lapsed.

The AGM would have to move to at least August or beyond.

That would mean getting a special dispensation or some form of constitutional redress to accommodate that need.

The authorisation must come from the management board and it needs a president, even in an acting role, to facilitate the administrative functions with the help of Adi Litia.

The president would also chair the management board meetings which will set the date, venue and agenda of the AGM.

Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka has even admitted that he has no executive role, so he can only assist, but has no authority to head the administrative functions of the party.

Until the president is appointed, very little moves. Members can meet unofficially but those meetings do not count.

The management board would have to meet to choose an acting president.

Mr Jale could slot in and chair the meeting or Mr Singh could step in.

This is part of the murky water the party is in.

This is the first time that it is in this predicament where the party is like a rudderless ship floating in a stormy sea.

It is even complicated by the decision of Adi Litia, Ro Filipe Tuisawau and Usaia Waqatairewa to appeal Justice Sharma’s ruling when Mr Rabuka had said there would be no appeal.

The split in the party is so serious now that there is even talk of setting up a new party in the event of the situation becoming unsalvageable.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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