Politics

60 Days: MPs Out Of Parliament

Divided, suspended SODELPA put on notice by Registrar of Political Parties for breaches of party’s Constitution.
27 May 2020 09:28
60 Days: MPs Out Of Parliament
Suspended SODELPA members from left: Koroi Cakacaka, Amoni Dalia, Ruci Karuru, Emele Duituturaga and Sainiana Radrodro at McGregor Road in Suva on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ilaijia Ravuwai

Speaker of Parliament Ratu Epeli Nailatikau last night outlined the conditions for the suspended SODELPA MPs.

All SODELPA (in suspension) MPs will not be allowed attend any Parliament sitting for the next 60 days, including the Standing Committees.

Ratu Epeli said: “They are not entitled to any remuneration or allowances from Parliament for the duration of the suspension.”

It follows on from an announcement from the Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem made earlier in the day to suspend the party (in suspension).

Ratu Epeli said: “During the period of suspension members of the Parliament of the SODELPA party, including caucas staff are not permitted to access Parliament premises.”

The suspension came into effect yesterday.

He said the status of the party (in suspension) would be reviewed once the Registrar of Political Parties makes a decision.

Adi Litia

Suspended SODELPA general secretary Adi Litia Qionibaravi assured their voters that they will soon remedy the breach/contravention singled out by the Mr Saneem.

Outside Parliament yesterday afternoon, Adi Litia said they would return “sooner, by Thursday (tomorrow).”

SODELPA (in suspension) MPs were stopped from entering the Parliament chambers before the start of the afternoon session.

Suspended SODELPA MP, Adi Litia Qionibaravi as she vacated opposition office following the sixty days suspension on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Suspended SODELPA MP, Adi Litia Qionibaravi as she vacated opposition office following the sixty days suspension on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Sitiveni Rabuka

Self appointed mediator and SODELPA (in suspension) Caretaker leader Sitiveni Rabuka said they respected the decision by the Registrar of Political Parties and would not appeal the ruling made against them.

Mr Rabuka said: “Appealing the decision is not worth it, we will take up the decision and go ahead with resolving our issues.”

He said he would submit a report that will be politically constitutionally sustainable to the Registrar during the term of their suspension.

“Both the factions agreed that we move quickly and come together in a meeting that will satisfy the Supervisor of Elections and Registrar and be able to submit a unified set of officials that we will all agree with and hopefully he will lift suspension in the next 60 days,” he said.

Mr Rabuka added added that he was not aware of which aspect the Registrar of Political Parties was referring to in the aspect of forgery in the Party constitution but will have to seek clarity on the one the party had worked under.

“We had a meeting and I read out the letter from the Supervisor of Elections and Registrar of Political parties very loud and clear so we have gone straight into action to try and carry out the mini elections.

“Stay firm, we will work our differences and come back united,” he assured their 181,072 voters.

Suspended Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka exits Opposition office following the sixty days suspension all SODELPA members of Parliament on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Suspended Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka exits Opposition office following the sixty days suspension all SODELPA members of Parliament on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Salote Radrodro

Meanwhile, SODELPA (in suspension) MP Salote Radrodro said it was unfair for them because Parliament would not have a full team of Opposition members when the national budget was debated in June.

Ms Radrodro said: “I believe it is unfair to our voters and to the nation as a whole particularly at this time whereby we have the economic and social impact of COVID-19 and it is important that the full house sits and has a full debate on the budget.”

She assured supporters that the party would return as strong as ever.

Suspended SODELPA MP, Salote Raddrodro as she vacated opposition office following the sixty days suspension on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Suspended SODELPA MP, Salote Raddrodro as she vacated opposition office following the sixty days suspension on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

“I believe with all my heart that we will resolve our issues, we will save SODELPA.”

At yesterday’s afternoon Parliament session, the three National Federation Party MP’s were the only Opposition MP’s in Parliament.

Emele Duituturaga

SODELPA (in suspension) member, Emele Duituturaga who is a key player in one of the factions said the Registrar recognises that the only legal officer is vice president Vijay Singh to hold internal party meetings which the SOE needs to be notified about.

“It is regretful that this has happened but I guess, this is inevitable,” Ms Duituturaga said.

“It’s time to work through our differences but mostly to comply with our constitution and be on the right side of the law. No doubt many party supporters will be upset and worried. We have 60 days to win back support and confidence.”

Suspension

The Registrar of Political Parties suspended the party for 60 days after failing to resolve its internal issues and remedy the breach to its constitution and the Political

Parties Act and in compliance with the High Court Judgement.

Mr Saneem said: “The situation has worsened,” and went on to reject particulars submitted by the two factions after finding that both Management Board Meetings were not conducted according to the party’s constitution.

Records submitted from both meetings were verified by the Registrar who found that 14 qualified Management Board Members had met at Holiday Inn while 17 Board members met at Kshatriya Hall.

“It is noted that both meetings did not meet quorum.”

Registrar of Political Parties and Supervisor of Election Mohammed Saneem on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Registrar of Political Parties and Supervisor of Election Mohammed Saneem on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

The absence of Vijay Singh at the Kshatriya Hall meeting and Adi Litia at the Holiday Inn meeting were also considered and it was concluded that both meetings had deficiencies that did not support its Constitutionality.

SODELPA has been put on notice and will be deregistered if it does not remedy the breaches which constitutes failure to appoint Registered Officers under Section 11.

“The interval management of the Party appears rather fluid.

“Since both sides have acted outside the SODELPA Constitution, it is not possible to determine which is the correct Office Holders of SODELPA,” Mr Saneem stated.

Media Statements

Mr Saneem ignored media commentary however said: “Some statements were in blatant disregard for the Constitution.

“One purported Management Board meeting usurped the role of the Annual General Meeting and directly made appointments in breach of the Constitution.

“At the least, the Party Leader, who was in attendance, ought to have reminded the meeting of the Constitutional Provisions.”

Multiple Versions of Constitution

About six versions of the SODELPA Constitution has surfaced following verifications by Mr Saneem.

Mr Saneem said it was unfortunate that the most important document of the Party was defective when submitted to the Registrar.

He ordered that it be rectified without delay.

Opposition members of Parliament, Ro Teimumu Kepa and Lynda Tabua outside Parliament on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Opposition members of Parliament, Ro Teimumu Kepa and Lynda Tabua outside Parliament on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Edited by Rosi Doviverata

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