SODELPA concedes defeat

 By Dionisia Tabureguci

The Social Democratic Liberal Party has accepted defeat, said its general secretary Adi Litia Qionibaravi, but “our unanswered questions need to be answered.”

In a collective effort with the National Federation Party, Fiji Labour Party and Unity Fiji Party, SODELPA had raised concerns over what they say are discrepancies in the handling of the Protocol of Returns (POR). 

“Our most important unanswered questions is the advisories which (the Fiji Elections Office) had given us two times – one in 2017 and another in 2018, which was that they would supply the political parties copies of the POR before they announce the elections results to give the parties time to assess quickly and object if necessary,” Qionibaravi said. 

“As it is, the announcements have been made but I can tell you that by 10AM (yesterday) the parties had yet to receive 275 PORs because by that time, the Fiji Elections Office had already announced 1,962 results through the app. But against that, we had yet to receive 275 PORs of the results which (FEO) had already announced. So things are not properly balanced. 

“Whilst they think they have the right to continue to do as they think they have the right to do, they must also remember what they had promised the political parties. It is only fair that political parties are given the Protocol of Results so that they can assess and object to results of whatever differences that they see between the POR and what’s actually coming out of the result management system.” 
Qionibaravi confirmed the four parties will take legal actions.

“The leaders (of the four political parties) have been meeting over the last couple of days and they met again today (Sunday) and (going to court) is a matter they have decided to pursue together,” she said.
“The election results is now known and the writ has been returned to the president and that gives the right to the political parties to take up matters that are of concern to us to the High Court which is the designated Court of Disputed Returns.”

The Verata, Ucunivanua high chief, long time civil servant and lawyer is among the 21 SODELPA candidates that have won seats in the new parliament and she sees the opportunity as “just another calling to continue to serve the people.”

“I think it’s a very special feeling to know that you are representing the interest of the people, in particular when you are brought up to serve the people,” she said. 
Qionibaravi thanked party supporters in Fiji and abroad for their sacrifice and commitment to the party’s preparations leading up to the general elections.

“I would continue to ask that we accept the results that has been announced. The party will continue to consult with our members and take up the necessary or relevant decisions in order to ensure that Fiji is returned to a government that truly respects the rule of law, is accountable and transparent. And most important of all, a government that listens to the people,” she said.