Analysis | Politics

New Party Leader Will Hold Key

There is a groundswell of feelings among the rank and file that caretaker party leader and Opposition leader, Mr Rabuka, should hand over the reins to a new leader and that his time is up.
05 Aug 2020 12:42
New Party Leader Will Hold Key
SODELPA Leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

A fresh face is what SODELPA needs as a party leader to have a chance in the 2022 General Election.

The new leader will give the party a new lease of life and a morale boost after the bitter split.

He or she could either come from sitting members of Parliament or someone from outside like Sitiveni Rabuka when he was chosen party leader in 2016.

There is a groundswell of feelings among the rank and file that caretaker party leader and Opposition leader, Mr Rabuka, should hand over the reins to a new leader and that his time is up.

But Mr Rabuka is not going to give in easily.

He has declared his intention publicly to lead SODELPA again and is expected to reapply.

He is going to go through the stringent vetting processes of the selection committee and the Management Board can still veto the committee’s decision.

The board still has the final say because it is the governing body of the party.

From the outset, the processes have to determine whether Mr Rabuka can stand again.

Under the current party constitution, he lost the party leadership when he lost the 2018 election just as Ro Teimumu Kepa did after she lost the 2014 election.

Or will the party amend the constitution to accommodate Mr Rabuka’s desire?

Mr Rabuka is running on a legal opinion that the constitution is silent on re-election.

If he is allowed to run without a constitutional amendment then he will set a new precedent.

Purely from a good governance perspective, the party changes the constitution when it suits a political agenda to target individual officials for political convenience.

The ploy was used in 2016 to oust Ro Teimumu.

She was the first casualty of the new amendment.

Will it now be used to keep Mr Rabuka as a leader?

Something is not right, but it will be up to the Management Board to adjudicate on the issue.

How will the three paramount chiefs, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau (president) and vice presidents Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and Ro Teimumu handle it when politically they are on opposite sides – Ratu Epenisa and Ro Teimumu with the moderates and Ratu Naiqama leading the conservative right-wing, which Mr Rabuka has aligned himself to.

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