Reports of ‘anomalies’ in Sodelpa vote to go with opposition parties

Sodelpa leaders announce coalition partner
Chief Sodelpa negotiator Anare Jale (middle), former MP Ro Teimumu Kepa (left) and former Sodelpa leader, Ratu Manoa Rorogaca, now party president, announce Sodelpa's choice of coalition partner in Suva on Tuesday. Image: Kelvin Anthony/RNZ Pacific

RNZ Pacific

Claims of irregularities in the vote to create a new coalition government formed in Fiji have emerged.

Internal disagreements have resurfaced within Sodelpa, Fiji’s kingmaking party, less than 24 hours after it announced it was forming a coalition government with the People’s Alliance and the National Federation Party.

The latest turn of events has resulted in the party’s general secretary Lenaitasi Duru tendering his resignation on Tuesday night to the party’s management board following his concerns about “anomalies” in the voting process to elect a coalition partner.

Sodelpa’s 30-member board was split with 16 in favour of the new coalition and 14 in favour of teaming up with Fiji First.

Prior to stepping down Duru had written to Fiji’s president, Wiliame Katonivere, seeking deferment of the first Parliament sitting.

“This request is based on the Sodelpa constitutional anomalies of members that participated in the vote to determine our coalition partner to form government from December 2022,” Duru said in the letter.

He added: “Given the importance of this process in choosing our next government, we therefore wish to advise that the initial result taken by the board is null and void.”

According to local media reports Duru is still the general secretary of the party as his resignation will come into effect after 30 days.

RNZ Pacific has contacted Sodelpa for comment.

No Parliament sitting today
Meanwhile, the Parliament office has confirmed that there will be no sitting today, as they have not received any proclamation from the president.

The president must call Parliament within 14 days after the writ of elections is returned.

Speaking to RNZ Pacific last night, Sodelpa’s main negotiator, Anare Jale, said the coalition agreement signed by the three parties is a legally binding document.

Jale said the basis of the agreement is for the three Sodelpa MPs to vote along party lines in favour of People’s Alliance leader Sitiveni Rabuka to be Fiji’s next prime minister.

This means if any of the three candidates fail to do so, then according to the 2013 Fijian Constitution, they will lose their parliamentary seat.

“The coalition is solid. The party is solid. We have decided on a decision, and the provision of the Constitution is very clear. When the party decides on a decision to be taken by them in Parliament, they have to respect that.”

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister has endorsed the new government.

In a tweet, Nanai Mahuta offered her congratulations to PA-NFP-Sodelpa and Sitiveni Rabuka on forming a coalition to lead the people.

She also said she looks forward to working with the new government to continue strengthening the warm relationship.


This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ. 

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