I'm not Deputy Party Leader says Ratu Naiqama
19:21 Wed Oct 10, 2018
Report by: FBC News
Just over a month away from the general election and there’s yet even more surmounting discord and conflict within SODELPA tonight, this time between the two most senior members of the party.
The hierarchy is tonight reeling with disagreement over the issue of who is or who isn’t the deputy leader of the party.
While the party leader Sitiveni Rabuka is adamant that party president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu is the deputy leader, the general secretary of the party Adi Litia Qionibaravi and now Ratu Naiqama himself has rubbished Rabuka’s lack of knowledge of the current pecking order of the now increasingly troubled and distressed main opposition party.
To date there’s been numerous issues of disagreement and confrontation within Sodelpa, but no one, let alone party members and supporters, ever expected any major differences between Sitiveni Rabuka and sodelpa president Ratu Naiqama Lalabavu.
Aside from their strong traditional ties it was Ratu Naiqama who had pushed Rabuka into the party and its leadership role much to the humiliation and resentment of former party leader Ro Teimumu Kepa and her supporters.
So it was no surprise when Rabuka confirmed his support for Ratu Naiqama as deputy leader on FBC news on Sunday.
“I had to ask him if he would be available, he said I’d rather not but let the selection process take its course and that was done, I asked him to make himself available, he did and he was selected by the interview panel.”
However, a day later, party general secretary, Adi Litia Qionibaravi, told FBC News that this wasn’t true because Rabuka did not have the mandate to make the decision. Adi Litia also asked FBC news to retract the story.
FBC news asked an adamant Rabuka again to clarify Adi Litia’s claims about this now contentious issue.
“The selection has been made and now it’s too late to call the management board. The working committee acts on behalf of the management board in between management board meetings.”
In a complete twist of events, Ratu Naiqama has finally broken his silence about the matter saying in this statement today that Sodelpa does not have a Deputy Party Leader or even an Acting Deputy Party Leader.
The party President says SODELPA’s AGM made an amendment that the Party President will only become the default Acting Party Leader in the event the leader’s position is vacated for any reason.
He adds this will be a temporary position, until the Management Board is convened within 7 days to appoint an Acting Party Leader.
Rabuka could not be reached for comment.
It’s yet another major blow to the supporters and members of SODELPA who have been at odds to damage control the numerous internal rifts so far.
However, this high ranking public disagreement between such strong allies could either potentially create a major problem for party support before the election or reinforce support for the Ro Teimumu Kepa camp.
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