17 Aug 2020

Five-way contest for Fiji's SODELPA leadership

8:28 pm on 17 August 2020

The race for the top job at Fiji's main opposition party is heading into a five-way contest.

Candidates and volunteers of SODELPA

Election candidates and volunteers of SODELPA in the lead up to the 2018 election. Photo: Supplied

Last month, the party leader's position at the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) was advertised.

Opposition Leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

Sitiveni Rabuka in Fiji's parliament. Photo: Supplied/Fiji Parliament

This week, SODELPA's biggest constituency, Nasinu, endorsed party leader Sitiveni Rabuka to continue in the position and opposition whip Lynda Tabuya as his deputy.

But Rabuka is expected to face his toughest challenge for the party leadership with four senior members Viliame Gavoka, Ratu Jone Navakamocea, Pio Tabaiwalu and Aseri Radrodro reportedly in the running.

Tabuya said Rabuka and her will make a formidable team going into the 2022 election.

"Nasinu feels that this will be a good combination - to have him lead and have myself to complement him because he has already gained traction from the 2018 election. He has appealed to the older generation and the vanua-based and if I were to come in as his deputy, I would be targeting the urban vote," Lynda Tabuya said.

Tabuya said the party's biggest constituency had also made a "calculated decision to see balance between the young and the old leading the party forward".

SODELPA deputy role a six-way battle

Niko Nawaikula.

Niko Nawaikula. Photo: Supplied

Tabuya is up against Niko Nawaikula, Filimoni Vosarogo, Aseri Radrodro, Pio Tabaiwalu, and Mosese Bulitavu for the deputy leader's position.

But she said she believed her trumpcard was the backing of some of the party's largest donors.

While she would not name them, Tabuya said they were the same people who backed the party's 2018 election campaign.

According to party reports, SODELPA's main financial backers were based overseas with the United States Chapter contributing almost $US100,000 and its Australian supporters donating over $US13,000 to the 2018 crusade.

SODELPA won 21 seats in the 2018 election.

Lynda Tabuya acquitted

Sodelpa MP Lynda Tabuya.

Sodelpa MP Lynda Tabuya. Photo: Fiji Government

Meanwhile, Lynda Tabuya has been acquitted in the Suva Magistrates Court of charges for breaching the Public Order Act.

On 27 March the SODELPA MP for Nasinu was charged for "malicious writings of false news or reports tending to create or foster public alarm and anxiety".

On Monday, the Director of Public Prosecutions withdrew the charges against Tabuya.

Her lawyer told the court that since his client's arrest, Tabuya had been ordered to refrain from making any public comments and was forced to deactivate her Facebook account.

The lawyer also said Tabuya wasn't allowed to speak to her supporters and exercise her right as a Member of Parliament.

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