Analysis

Ratu Epenisa For New President Of SODELPA?

While he advocates protection of iTaukei rights, culture, resources and the advancement of their economic interests, he says other races should not be forgotten either.
22 Jul 2020 12:27
Ratu Epenisa For New President Of SODELPA?
Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, and Ro Teimumu Kepa.

Bau chief Ratu Epenisa Cakobau is emerging as a strong contender for president when SODELPA meets in a Special General Meeting in Suva on Saturday.

This is after successful businesswoman Mere Samisoni, earlier touted as suitable leader, decided she would not accept it after consulting with her family.

She would leave it to the Vanua believing “there is a trustworthy person there to protect our sharing and caring culture.”

While she did not mention names, it is understood that person is Ratu Epenisa.

Ratu Epenisa, the heir to the Vunivalu title, paramount chief of the Kubuna Confederacy, has been active in the forefront of SODELPA politics to try to save the party from self destruction after a bitter split between the moderates and the conservative right wing.

He has become a voice of reason in a toxic environment threatened by the rise in extremism.

It’s probably the motivation that made him join the moderates who met at the Holiday Inn Suva under the leadership of Mr Singh.

There he joined a close traditional ally, Ro Teimumu Kepa, who sees him as a potential leader because of his strong views on tolerance, inclusiveness and anti-extremism.

Ro Teimumu is the Roko Tui Dreketi, paramount chief of Rewa and the Burebasaga Confederacy.

The two chiefs form a powerful duo and provide a stabilising influence in the party.

With her backing and Mrs Samisoni’s support plus a wide appeal from the rank and file among the moderates, Ratu Epenisa seems to be the logical choice for president.

From day one since he entered the scene and became active, he has been consistent in his position on various issues.

While he advocates protection of iTaukei rights, culture, resources and the advancement of their economic interests, he says other races should not be forgotten either.

Mr Singh is likely to continue as vice-president although many right wingers want him out because they could not accept an Indo-Fijian leading a predominantly iTaukei party.

Ratu Epenisa’s beliefs

Ratu Epenisa believes that the party should open its doors to other races to broaden its base and appeal.

He basically abhors racism recognising that iTaukei have lived with Indo-Fijians peacefully in their provinces.

It is not clear who the right wingers are fielding as their candidate for president.

Will Tui Cakau, paramount chief of Cakaudrove, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, contest the position? Could ousted Rewa chief Ro Filipe Tuisawau return as a candidate?

It will be a chiefly clash if one of them is nominated.

The election of officials including the vice-presidents will determine who controls the party for the next 12 months.

After the split, the moderates have been filling the acting positions which lapsed on June 30 according to the party constitution.

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

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