Tight Fiji police security for new Sodelpa party board meeting

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

By Arieta Vakasukawaqa in Suva

Tight police security will greet the Sodelpa management board meeting in Suva tomorrow when it will again decide the political party it will form a coalition with to run the Fiji government for the next four years.

The decision came after hours of deliberation today by the Sodelpa working committee — headed by party acting deputy leader Aseri Radrodro — where members discussed the “anomalies” in the previous board meeting held at the Yue Lai Hotel in Suva on Tuesday.

That meeting of the 30-member board decided by a margin of 16-14 to form a coalition with the People’s Alliance party of former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka and the National Federation Party. This would give the coalition a slender majority of 29 in the 55-seat Parliament.

However, some issues were identified by the Registrar of Political Parties, Mohammed Saneem, after that Sodelpa board meeting.

Speaking to news media today, Radrodro said the agenda of the new meeting was to decide which party they would join.

The meeting will be held at the Southern Cross Hotel in Suva at 10am tomorrow.

Sodelpa’s negotiating team will be headed by party vice-president Anare Jale.

Arieta Vakasukawaqa is a Fiji Times journalist. Republished with permission.

Military forces deployed
Meanwhile, RNZ Pacific reports that Fiji’s military forces are being deployed to maintain security and stability in the country following reports of threats made against minority groups.

In a statement yesterday afternoon, Fiji Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho announced the move, calling it a joint decision with the commander of Fiji’s military forces, Major-General Jone Kalouniwai.

Fiji Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho
Fiji Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho . . . reports and intelligence received of planned civil unrest and the targeting of minority groups. Image: Fiji police/RNZ Pacific

As of 3pm Fiji time, RNZ Pacific’s correspondent in Suva, Kelvin Anthony, reported there were no visible signs of increased police or military presence.

Commissioner Qiliho said the decision was based on official reports and intelligence received of planned civil unrest and the targeting of minority groups.

The military deployment comes less than 24 hours after the ruling FijiFirst party made its first public statement since the December 14 election.

Party secretary-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said they respected the outcome of the election, but did not recognise the validity of the opposition coalition and would not concede defeat.

Sayed-Khaiyum said under the country’s constitution, the FijiFirst government remained in place and Voreqe Bainimarama was still the prime minister of Fiji.

He said this could only be changed once the vote for prime minister was held on the floor of Parliament.

Under section 131 (2) of Fiji’s constitution, the military has the “overall responsibility” to ensure the security, defence and wellbeing of Fiji and all Fijians.

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

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