Loyalty pledge by MPs
WITH around 12 months before the next election in Fiji, former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka has consolidated the support of the current parliamentarians of the main Social Democratic Liberal Party. Of the 15 sitting MPs, all but two – Opposition Leader, Ro Teimumu Kepa, and suspended Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu – have applied to contest the polls under the SODELPA banner.
Ro Teimumu is being courted by Hope, a party formed by dissident members of the SODELPA working committee including activist Pita Waqavonovono, politician Mick Beddoes and former journalist Jese Sikivou.
In the 2014 election, Kepa polled the second highest number of votes with 49,485, second only to 2006 coup leader, Rear-Admiral Frank Bainimarama on 202,459. She galvanised the mainly conservative, indigenous and far right support from those who opposed Bainimarama. Much of her support – however – came from Lau Province at the behest of her nephews and nieces once former civil servant, Anare Jale, was ruled out of the running by the Elections Office. Whether she will be able to maintain that support on her own in a new political entity is rather unlikely.
Kepa may retain voter support from the confederacy of Burebasaga, over which she is traditional leader. But her subjects including MPs from Kadavu, Nadroga and even the Tui Namosi, Ro Suliano Matanitobua, have already signed up with SODELPA. Twice in the past, commoner Rabuka has stood against the traditional chiefly establishment and won.
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