SODELPA still pondering coalition

Bill Gavoka

Fiji’s Social Democratic Party (SODELPA) has denied rumours that they have decided who they will support to form the next Fiji government.

The SODELPA Party leader, Bill Gavoka, says, “It’s still very much a work in progress; we understand the gravity of what is required, and we will do it with a deep process in accordance with good practices and to be approved by management,” he said.

SODELPA’s decision as to which coalition it will join will determine who forms Fiji’s next government. It’s emergency as kingmaker has come about after the FijiFirst Party won 26 seats in the polls, and the two coalition partners, the People’s Alliance (PAP) 21 seats, and the National Federation Party (NFP) 5 seats. This deadlock means the 3 seats won by SODELPA will take whichever coalition it chooses over the 50%  threshold to form the new government.

The parties on all sides are in deep negotiations. According to Gavoka, SODELPA has had meetings with both FijiFirst and PAP, with their terms offered.

Gavoka said, “The results of those meetings were discussed in what we have as a working committee, and we went back with a counter proposal.”

SODELPA’s negotiating team will today again engage with those parties, on other parts of the offer and proposal.

In the midst of all the negotiations, SODELPA stands firm on certain negotiable and non-negotiable terms. “Our base is the indigenous people of this country, and their issues are always paramount with us,” Gavoka said.

According to Gavoka, there are pros and cons for both parties, they are taking cautious steps in the negotiation process and assuring the public that whatever is decided will be in the best interest of the country.

Indigenous rights, education policy, and the embassy in Jerusalem are the three non-negotiables.SODELPA is managed by the management board, which includes 42–43 members, while their negotiation team is chaired by Mr. Anare Jale, a former Fijian politician and member of the Fijian Parliament.

As Fijians wait in anticipation on how quickly SODELPA will make their decision, Gavoka says, “The final agreement, will be presented to the board, and we’ll leave it to them to decide.”

“We are not rushing this, we have got 14 days to do it, it needs to be done properly.”