10 Jul 2020

Fiji opposition searches for new leadership

4:02 pm on 10 July 2020

Fiji's main opposition party is looking for its next generation of leaders, as its party's problems continue.

The Social Democratic Liberal Party or Sodelpa said it would appoint its new leader at a special general meeting later this month.

General secretary Emele Duituturaga said former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka's term as party leader has lapsed, along with the positions of president and two vice-presidents.

 Emele Duituturaga.

Emele Duituturaga. Photo: supplied

Ms Duituturaga said it's time to "become open and look at the party's next generation of leaders."

She said Sodelpa needs to educate its next politicians to be "suitably qualified, people-centred, to have the heart for the nation and not come and do it for the money but because we all want a Fiji called home."

She said the position of party leader is being advertised and is consistent with the party constitution - that the post becomes vacant when the party loses a general election.

"The constitution also states that on the second annual general meeting after the last general election, the party selects another party leader to prepare for the next general election," she told the Fiji Times. "We are following those provisions."

Ms Duituturaga said when Mr Rabuka resigned in November 2018, the party was headed towards a Court of Disputed Returns and the management board decided it was best he continue in the position to deal with the post-election issues.

Fiji's SODELPA leader, Sitiveni Rabuka.

Fiji's SODELPA leader, Sitiveni Rabuka. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

She said the board was of the view that the casual vacancies were to be extended until the special general meeting on July 25, 2020.

She said she would write to the Registrar of Political Parties, Mohammed Saneem, to explain the party's position.

Mr Saneem had said Sodelpa was now in a "constitutional crisis" because the casual vacancies of the president and vice-presidents had lapsed.

On Thursday, Mr Rabuka urged Sodelpa supporters to "stand united and firmly" with the party.