By Talebula Kate in Suva
Former opposition Sodelpa member Mick Beddoes has appealed to the party’s management board to end the 16-year rule of Voreqe Bainimarama’s FijiFirst government.
In an open letter on his official Facebook page to Sodelpa vice-president Ro Teimumu Kepa, president Ratu Manoa Roragaca, leader Viliame Gavoka and the management board today, Beddoes said: “After many years of inner turmoil, you have the entire country holding their breath to hear your decision, which will either deliver to our people a Christmas gift unlike any we have had for the past 16 years or you will knowingly condemn us all to another four more years of undeserved vindictive, bullying, corrupt, self serving, self enriching and uncaring governance.”
He added that the decision to stay with the people was a “no brainer” to avoid a “hung” parliament.
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The official results indicated that FijiFirst had lost its majority with just 26 members of the expanded 55-seat Parliament — the same combined number as the opposition coalition of the People’s Alliance led by former 1987 coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka (21 members) and the National Federation Party (5 seats).
Soldelpa – the only other party of nine contesting the general elections to get across the 5 percent threshold — hold the balance of power with three seats.
“While the decision to stay with the greater interest of all our people, is a ‘no brainer’ I do appreciate the need for the party to take into account the interests and aspirations of its membership,” Beddoes said.
“However, in doing so it has to be weighed against the greater interest of our nation given we have all witnessed in broad daylight and experienced over the past 16 years the greed and self enrichment by the narrow interests of the favored few and as the voting thus far has very clearly indicated por people want change and we as opposition political leaders are ‘obliged to deliver this’ as this is what we promised.”
‘Theft’ of the Fijian name
“Need I remind you that this is the very same government who raided your home at night and took you in for interrogation because you offered to host the Methodist Church Conference, this is the same government who from 2007 to 2013 imposed more than 17 derogatory decrees against your own people, which among other things included the ‘theft’ of the name Fijian from your people by a stroke of a pen, and they banned the right of educated iTaukei students from attending and supporting their respective provincial councils.
“They have excluded your own people from chair positions and board appointments by a margin of 80 percent from all government entities under the guise of ‘merit based’ appointments.
“When they had the opportunity to remove all these oppressive and discriminatory decrees at the time they drafted and imposed their 2013 constitution prior to the 2014 elections, they did not and it remains the law against your people today and they built in provision into the constitution that makes amendments to the constitution near impossible.
“This government’s policies and deliberate discrimination against your own people has resulted your people accounting for 75 percent of our 208,256 absolute poorest citizens, which means more than 156,192 of your own people live in absolute poverty despite owning 89 percent of all the land and you want to even ‘consider’ talking to them?”
Beddoes said Ro Teimumu led Soldelpa in the first opposition challenge that resulted in their first national platform from which to speak out and he was part of the team then.
“In that first effort in 2014, Sodelpa and its opposition colleagues received 202,650 votes to FijiFirst’s 293,714, we were 91,064 short. In our second effort in 2018, we increased our support level to 227,094 vs FijiFirst’s 227,241 and reduced their advantage to just 147 votes.
“Today while we are all still trying to figure out where all the extra votes came from the latest vote tally show we are at this time 58,635 votes ahead and you, Marama, are once again in a position with Bill and your management board to complete the mission we all started back in 2007 and remove the cruel, vindictive, bullying, arrogant, disrespectful and uncaring government that FijiFirst is.
“I beg you Marama, Ratu Manoa and you Bill and your management board, please do not waiver from our initial promise of change and finish the mission we started 15 years ago and end our 16 years of suffering and please give our people the Christmas gift they all deserve.”
Sodelpa in negotiations with both sides
SBS News reports that Sodelpa is in negotiations with both the FijiFirst government and People’s Alliance over which it will support with its balance of power.
Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party is the largest single party with 42.5 per cent of the vote while People’s Alliance and the NFP — which have already said they would join forces — sit at 36 and nine percent respectively.
Sodelpa holds just over five percent of the vote.
Sodelpa general secretary Lenaitasi Duru said today it would enter a second round of negotiations with both parties.
Talebula Kate is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.
— Kelvin Anthony (@kelvinfiji) December 18, 2022