NEWS

14 Want Ratu Epenisa To Change Party Leader Selection Process Or Face Legal Action

The petitioners objected to the engaging of NGO Pacific Peoples Recruiters to help conduct the selection process. They wanted a panel to interview the candidates in front of the Management Board.
25 Nov 2020 12:09
14 Want Ratu Epenisa To Change Party Leader Selection Process Or Face Legal Action
SODELPA president Ratu Epenisa Cakobau.

Fourteen members of SODELPA’s Management Board have given president Ratu Epenisa Cakobau an ultimatum.

They warned him that unless he changed the selection process for the party leader and deputy, he could face legal action.

The petition was in a letter dated November 20.

“We hereby put you on notice and require that you remedy this state of affairs by close of business today, Friday 20th November 2020.

“The interviews must be carried out in the presence of, and be managed by the Management Board, by a panel appointed in accordance with SGA (Special General Assembly) and MB (Management Board) resolutions.

“We require arrangements in this vein be announced publicly, and applicants be informed of interview in the presence of the Management  Board by close of business today Friday 20th November 2020. We reserve our right to legal redress in event of failure to comply with this demand to remedy the breach.”

The petitioners objected to the engaging of NGO Pacific Peoples Recruiters to help conduct the selection process. They wanted a panel to interview the candidates in front of the Management Board.

But the current selection process, they claimed, was in clear breach of the  resolutions of the Special General Assembly, the supreme authority of the party, on July 25 this year and the Management Board meeting on November 5.

Therefore, the petitioners said it was unconstitutional.

They cautioned applicants not to attend the interviews because of the alleged breach.

MP Mosese Bulitavu is understood to be the only candidate who did not attend the interview for deputy leader.

He said in a statement that he had asked Pacific Peoples Recruiters to suspend interviews until the petitioners’ grievances were resolved.  The petitioners are Tevita Komaisavai (Lautoka Urban Constituency Council), Salacieli Raiwalui (Nadi Urban Constituency Council), Sakiusa Kaitani (Rakiraki/Saivou Ra Constituency Council), Ratu Kilipaji Vakalalabure (Cakaudrove West Constituency Council), MP Mitieli Bulanauca (Bua Constituency Council), Kalivati Bale (Lomaiviti Constituency Council), Sirilio Vukica (Cakaudrove East Constituency Council), Ro Mocelutu Mataitini (Namosi Constituency Council), Filise Matabogi (Navosa Constituency Council), Timoci Bulitavu (Labasa/Savusavu Urban Constituency Council), Uraia Salababa (Nakorotubu/Nalawa Ra Constituency Council, MP Ratu Tevita Navurelevu (parliamentary caucus), Jese Saukuru (parliamentary caucus), Maika Nakete (Macuata Constituency Council).

Mr Bulitavu said he was told by the recruiting agency that Ratu Epenisa had given the green light to continue the interview and the matter would be dealt with internally. No comments could be obtained from him or the recruiting agency yesterday.

Mr Bulitavu told the agency: “For the record Pacific Peoples has mandate and I do not recognise it as the selection panel endorsed by the Management Board. I will only participate in the interview if the Management Board had resolved & endorsed Pacific People to be the selection panel.

“The whole process starting from the appointing authority to establish your legitimacy as interview panel, conducting interviews and report recommendations should be based on a Management Board resolution not the president’s own discretion.

“I am a strong advocate of transparency and good governance. I will only do what is right under the party constitution.”

Mr Bulitavu and the 14 petitioners, members of the conservative right wing faction, back Mr Rabuka.

His comments drew swift response from Hot Bread Kitchen owner Mere Samisoni from the moderates camp.

Mrs Samisoni accused the old leadership of violating SODELPA’s decentralisation policy that prevented her from winning her Lami seat in the 2018 election. She said the leadership needed to move away from “career politicians of the political elite” and learn about sustainable voter focused service delivery.

She said SODELPA leadership must be changed to move forward.

The latest development indicates the rising tension in the party before the Management Board  meeting on Friday and the General Assembly (annual general meeting) on Saturday.

The selection process has continued despite the petition. It remains to be seen whether the petitioners will carry out their threat of legal action.

Meanwhile, it’s now being confirmed that there are only three panel members.

They are University of Fiji academic Tupeni Baba (chairperson), former MP Suva lawyer Semesa Karavaki and chartered accountant Sepeti Tagilala.

University of the South Pacific academics Esther Williams and Sandra Tarte  turned down the invitation to be panel members  because of the university’s policy of no participation in politics because of regional status.

Policy analyst Jone Navakamocea’s name was touted but was not approached.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

Feedback: nemani.delaibatiki@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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