19 Jun 2020

Fiji registrar rejects Sodelpa submission

2:04 pm on 19 June 2020

Just hours after submitting a list of executives to the Fiji Elections Office, the suspended Social Democratic Liberal Party has been told it has failed - again - to comply with the constitution.

 Emele Duituturaga.

Emele Duituturaga. Photo: supplied

On 25 May, Sodelpa was suspended for 60 days for breaching political rules and the Constitution following weeks of feuding that split the party in two factions.

A board meeting was held in Suva on Thursday with members from both factions appointing office holders to act until the suspension ends.

But Registrar Mohammed Saneem rejected the appointment of Emele Duituturaga as general secretary, saying the board did not have the power to appoint nor did the Constitution provide for acting roles.

"In the Sodelpa Constitution, any person who is general secretary of the party is the authorised or registered officer of the party so it cannot have a casual vacancy filled by any other means except by means of the constitution which is in section 18.3.1 of the Sodelpa Constitution."

Mr Saneem said the party had about five weeks to get it right or they faced deregistration.

Ms Duituturaga is a former executive director of the Pacific Islands Association of Non Government Organisations who was replaced in July 2019.

The registrar said he could not accept Emele Duituturaga's appointment as acting general secretary as the process for appointing a GS required the "recruitment under nationally recognized best practices on the terms decided by the management board."

Mr Mohammed said the constitution clearly stated that the appointee signed a work contract with the board and should deliver under a "Performance Agreement" signed with the board.

"From the application received, it's evident the board had neglected and/or failed to ensure that it complies with the suspended Sodelpa constitution."

Mr Saneem said the appointment did not comply and therefore could not endorse the application for Ms Duituturaga as a registered officer of the party.

He has directed the party to comply with its constitution in making the appointment as Sodelpa remained in suspension which is expected to end next month.

Meanwhile, no date was set at Thursday's meeting for the party's Special General Meeting.

Interim party leader Sitiveni Rabuka said the board now had to "urgently deal with issues raised by the Registrar of Political Parties which took priority over other matters on the agenda".

But Mr Rabuka said he's confident the party will come out of suspension soon.

"I'm very optimistic if we continue today's discussion, I'm sure we can meet the requirements by the Supervisor of Elections."

Earlier, the board appointed Vijay Singh as acting President, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau and Ratu Jone Lesuma as acting Vice Presidents while acting Treasurer's Ilisoni Vuidreketi.