Two Top Fiji Opposition MPs Won't Seek Reelection In 2018

Former SODELPA leader Ro Teimumu Kepa, Ratu Naiqama making way for 'younger blood'

By Rosi Doviverata & Arieta Vakasukawaqa

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Sun, Jan. 14, 2017) –  Two top SODELPA officials are out of the 2018 general election.

They are president and suspended MP Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu and former party leader Ro Teimumu Kepa, the Opposition leader.

They have not sought re-election to give way for younger blood to come into the political arena.

Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka confirmed last night that Ratu Naiqama had decided not to fight the elections.

Ro Teimumu said: “I am not standing in the 2018 General Elections, I have already said it and I will stick by that.”

Her announcement ended speculation about her political future.

She has been under pressure from her subjects in the Burebasaga confederacy to quit politics and focus on her traditional role as 

Ratu Naiqama is expected to continue as SODELPA president and focus on his traditional role as Tui Cakau, paramount chief of Cakaudrove province.

Last night Ro Teimumu said: “Well I think there are very many good people out there who have already applied and thinking of joining other political parties and I think I have come to the end of my political career.”

She was fully supportive of the co-operation of opposition parties mooted by  SODELPA leader, Sitiveni Rabuka.

“I think that is the only way to move forward and do things , forming coalition parties.”

Both politicians have had their fair share of challenges in the party. The turning point for Ratu Naiqama was when SODELPA’s parliamentary caucus defied his directive to vote against a Government motion seeking an increase in allowance.

Ratu Naiqama felt strongly that it was wrong to get allowance increase when some people were still living in tents after Tropical Cyclone Winston.

That issue has not been fully resolved and could influence his decision on how long he wants to be party president.

Meanwhile, Ratu Naiqama’s son Ratu Antonio Lalabalavu has applied for a SODELPA ticket.

He is a private health practitioner based in Wairiki, Taveuni.

He is 38 years old.

Dr Lalabalavu said last night he was inspired to apply because of his desire to serve people.

He is married to Kalisiana and they have three children.

From day one after she became Opposition leader, Ro Teimumu has had to deal with internal differences.

She was challenged after she appointed National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad Opposition Finance spokesperson. Her leadership was questioned in the controversial Gaunavinaka Report which did an audit of the Opposition Office.

The row over the report gave rise to the reformers who influenced the adoption of an amended party constitution which contains sweeping changes.

Ro Teimumu subsequently relinquished her party leader role and was replaced by Mr Rabuka.

Her dislike of Mr Rabuka because of his 1987 coup involvement is well known. This may also have contributed to her decision not to stand again.

Edited by Naisa Koroi

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