Rabuka eyes top party position

Leader of Opposition Sitiveni Rabuka during a break at Parliament on Friday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka wants another shot at leading the Social Democratic Liberal Party to the general election.

He said he had submitted an application for the position to SODELPA’s management board.

Mr Rabuka said he wanted to lead the party to the 2022 General Election and would reapply if the party’s management board resolved to re-advertise the position as a result of a recent court ruling.

After SODELPA failed to win the 2018 poll, Mr Rabuka resigned as party leader but was asked to carry on as caretaker head until a replacement was appointed.

Under the party’s amended constitution, the party leader must abdicate the position if the party lost an election.

“The position is one that is decided by the management board and the general assembly and not a case of ‘succession’,” he said.

The way forward

Mr Rabuka said the party’s working committee had met to consider, among other matters, a paper he presented to the management board about the way forward for SODELPA ahead of the 2022 General Election.

“That breaks down the preparation into five phases — to fill the vacancies in the party executive ranks to comply with the requirements of the Registrar of Political Parties, to restore unity in the party preferably by mediation, review the party constitution and amend as necessary after running with the current one for the past seven years, to make it responsive to time and changing social behaviours, party finances and scouting for 2022 candidates.”

Party funds

Mr Rabuka said the party needed to raise funds for its election campaign in the lead-up to the 2022 polls.

“The party has enough money for the normal administration of the party office and support for the members of Parliament but will need to raise funds for the campaign.”

He said the party was looking at ways to generate funds while taking into consideration the limitations in the 2013 Constitution.

“We are all limited by the Fiji Constitution and its provisions about elections and political parties so we can only solicit the support of members within the limitations of the law.

“We can invite the original signatories for the registration to continue to support the party with annual contributions that they and their families continue in a class of membership while others can also pledge ‘loyal members’ club et cetera.”

2022 strategy

Mr Rabuka said the aim of the party would be to reach all corners of the nation.

“I believe that the strategy for Fiji campaigns do not differ between the parties — the aim is to reach all corners of the nation and hear out the voters’ views on how better to provide national leadership to address their needs as much as the nation can sustainably afford.”

Lessons learnt Mr Rabuka said the biggest lesson the party had learnt in its last election campaign was understanding Fiji’s D’Hondt system of voting.

“The major lesson we learnt was that we have not learnt the realities of the D’Hondt system of voting and we need to make that very clear for the candidates and constituency representatives to have an open mind about the party reach rather than try and exercise ‘Turf Control’.”

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