By Felix Chaudhary in Suva
The incumbent FijiFirst government’s appeal was beginning to wane and voters deserted the party “because of what they saw as their authoritarian, non-inclusive, controlling and vindictive style of leadership”, says a leading Fijian academic with an international reputation.
Professor Steven Ratuva, director of the New Zealand-based University of Canterbury’s Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies, said: “The writing was on the wall for the Voreqe Bainimarama-led party for some time”.
“People could hardly openly complain and criticise the government as one would expect in a democracy, fearing the consequences,” he said.
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A coalition of the People’s Alliance Party and National Federation Party with 26 seats combined with Sodelpa’s crucial three seats claims that it has a majority in the expanded 55-seat Parliament for Sitiveni Rabuka to lead as Prime Minister.
Referring to the internal issues erupting within the kingmaker Social Democratic Liberal Party (Sodelpa), Professor Ratuva said it was time to respect the wishes of voters rather than the “hunger for power” and grievances of individual political players.
He said the Sodelpa split which led to the formation of the People’s Alliance was unfortunate “with lots of bruised souls and egos who harboured very deep resentment and clamour for vengeance”.
The issue was a complex mixture of “traditional vanua politics, personality power struggle and liumuri (backstabbing)” that was now unashamedly being played out in public.
Voting party line
Sodelpa MP Ifereimi Vasu told The Fiji Times he “will go wherever the party takes him”.
He was asked to respond to Sodelpa forming a coalition with PAP and NFP to form government, reports Arieta Vakasukawaqa.
Vasu got 1427 votes in the 2022 general election.
He was among the three Sodelpa candidates voted into Parliament — the other two are current leader Viliame Gavoka and Aseri Radrodro.
Felix Chaudhary and Arieta Vakasukawaqa are Fiji Times reporters. Republished with permission.