The founder of the coup culture was knocked back early on in the opposition’s life, it being publicly stated that his history was not in keeping with the party’s aims and philosophy.
But with the principal objector [Mick Beddoes], egged on by his side-kick Tupeni Baba, out of the political arena the time is increasingly seen as right for Rabuka’s return.
And if he does come into the SODELPA fold it’s hard to see him as anything but leader.
There are huge political advantages in such a move and, as always, drawbacks.
That Rabuka still has a following is beyond doubt. Though he is rightly accredited as being the founder of Fiji’s coup culture, in his mellowing years Rabuka discovered the need to bring all of Fiji’s communities with him – though neither major ethnic group was ready for the deal with Jai Ram Reddy in the 1999 election. Exit Rabuka.
But he has never really gone away, maintaining a public profile while awaiting – and studying - events.
The business community can work with him. There are even echoes of respect for him within the military while his political savvy would be an asset to SODELPA.
He favours a return to the rule of law in Fiji, having learned from his errors in flouting it.
On another level, however, he can be painted as the evil genius who set his country on the road to destruction – yesterday’s man with nothing to offer the “new” Fiji and its military dictatorship.
He can been seen as divisive, a “Fiji for the Fijians” man, despite his best efforts to jettison that political baggage.
But whether it’s Rabuka or anyone else, SODELPA needs a new leading light to guide the nation out of the darkness of dictatorship.
Ro Teimumu has tried her honest best to serve but she’s a chief, not a politician, and the experience and standing of someone like Rabuka would be a telling factor in election campaigning.
Not that SODELPA can win an election. Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum decides who will sit in parliament but even he and Bainimarama’s military would find it hard, if not impossible, to stand in the way of a public opinion groundswell.
In that event, Fiji might even see the military’s worst nightmare – peaceful public protest.
Sitiveni Rabuka did not respond to a request for comment.
Fijileaks: What Fiji is crying out for is an Opposition which champions 'aspirations' and not merely the 'aggrieved', which means to stop focusing primarily on the Great Council of Chiefs; and those religiously hailing the contributions of 'Bainimarama's chiefs' for standing up with him should be roundly condemned - these opportunistic chiefs are (including the recently deceased ones) exploiting links with Bainimarama to remain significant and to perpetuate their own
chieftaincy through dictatorship
The two chiefs who have just died were part of a long list of chiefs who support Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama.
That means they support all his policies including the abolition of the Great Council of Chiefs. It blows away the argument by Opposition politicians that many iTaukei want the GCC reinstated.
The late Roko Tui Kiuva, Ratu Tevita Tawake and the late Tui Tavuki, Ratu Joni Duikete, represented a special group of traditional iTaukei leaders who may not be seen frequently in public but are greatly respected in their own communities.
Ratu Tevita is one of several Tailevu and Kubuna Confederacy chiefs who stood by Mr Bainimarama during some of his difficult leadership periods. Kubuna comprises Tailevu, Lomaiviti, Naitasiri and Ra provinces. They include high-ranking Bau chiefs, the late Adi Samanunu Cakobau, sister Adi Litia Cakobau and brother Ratu George Kadavulevu Cakobau Junior.
Their father was the former Vunivalu, Tui Kaba, of Bau and Kubuna, the late Ratu Sir George Cakobau (senior).
After their mother, Adi Veniana Gavoka died, Ratu Sir George married Radi Levuka Lady Lelea Seruwaia Balekiwai and they had five children Adi Kaunilotuma Cakobau, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Ratu Josefa Celua Cakobau, Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa Cakobau. Ratu Sir George was the first local Governor-General (1973-1983). He was a direct descendant of Ratu Seru Cakobau who was styled Tui Viti when Fiji was ceded to Great Britain in 1874.
Since Ratu George died in 1989, the title of Vunivalu has remained vacant.
The kingmakers’ clan has not been able to decide who should be the new Vunivalu.
The candidates are Ratu George Kadavulevu and Ratu Epenisa by virtue of their lineage. While Ratu George Kadavulevu supports FijiFirst, Ratu Epenisa aligns himself with SODELPA.
In his recent tour of Tailevu North areas devastated by Cyclone Winston, chiefs and their people from Qelekuro to Nasinu in Dawasamu pledged their support for Mr Bainimarama. Lomaiviti has also committed its support for the PM.
In Rewa, Mr Bainimarama has a powerful ally in the Vunivalu, Ratu Epeli Mataitini.
This has caused strained relations with Ro Teimumu Kepa, Marama na Roko Tui Dreketi, Paramount chief of Rewa and Burebasaga confederacy.
She is also the Opposition leader and outgoing SODELPA leader. On cultural and traditional matters, they are supposed to be working together but this has not been happening.
The West chiefs and their people voted in large numbers for Mr Bainimarama in the 2014 general elections.
The same momentum has continued because of the developments that have taken place after the election.
These are some of the chiefs who have stood by Mr Bainimarama since 2014. It’s an impressive list and demonstrates that he has a strong iTaukei base.
Turaga Na Taukei Naua , deceased, (vacant)
Turaga Na Tui Vuda, Ratu Eparama Kitione Tavaiqia,
Turaga Tui Nawaka, Ratu Asaeli Drui Naevo,
Turaga Tui Sabeto, Ratu Tevita Susu Mataitoga,
Turaga Tui Nadi, Ratu Sailosi Ramoqe Dawai,
Turaga Tui Tavua, Ratu Nacanieli Uqeuqe
Turaga Na Tui Naviti, Ratu Kitione Vuluma,
Taukei Vidilo, Ratu Wiliame Bouwalu Saumaimuri,
Turaga Na Tui Vitogo, Ratu Wiliame Sovasova,
Marama na Tui Ba, Adi Laite Koroirua
Turaga Tui Na Viti Levu, deceased, vacant
Turaga Na Tui Nalawa, Ratu Epeli Niudamu
Turaga Na KaLevu,[Vakatawa], Ratu Kinijoji Nanovo Vosalagi,
Turaga Na Tui Conua, Ratu Luke Veidovi,
Turaga Tui Davutukia, Ratu Emosi Buruavatu
Turaga Na Tui Lawa, Ratu Sevanaia Vatunitu Lalabalavu.
Turaga Na Tui Vusu, Ratu Siriako N. Matabogi
Turaga Tui Nasikawa, Ratu Timoci Koilolo,
Adi Litia Cakobau
Ratu George Kadavulevu Cakobau Junior
Ro Epeli Mataitini
Tui Wainunu- Ratu Orisi Baleitavea
Tui Macuata- Ratu Wiliame Katonivere
Tui Mali- Ratu Meli Bogiso
From Fijileaks Archive:
BY VICTOR LAL
An old conch shell blowing different tune - Adi Litia Cakobau forgets poll lesson from past; in 2001 she had asked Bainimarama to hand over command of the RFMF to the GCC; also, she wanted George Speight freed from prison: "What happened in 2000 were political expressions;
to criminalize freedom of expression is to criminalize democracy "
The Mara/Cakobau Dynasty
In recent years there has been a public split between the Mara/Cakobau political and traditional dynasty. The victory of the Fiji Labour Party, the inclusion of Ratu Mara’s daughter as a Minister in Chaudhry’s government, and Ratu Mara’s elevation as President of Fiji, drove a further wedge between the Mara-Cakobau clan in Fijian politics. It was not surprising, therefore, that Speight and others hailing from the Cakobau side of the traditional clan had been baying for Mara’s political blood shortly after seizing power. Unlike the Mara family, the Cakobau family had been badly defeated at the polls.
As the Daily Post pointed out on 19 May 1999, a year to the day Speight and his hoodlums seized the Chaudhry government, the Cakobau family name was not enough to muster the support of Tailevu voters as brother, sister, and cousin lost their respective seats. Members of this chiefly Bau and Tailevu family, regarded highly throughout the country, could not hold on to their voting leads, and lost out after preferences were distributed. Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, Adi Litia Cakobau’s brother, lost the Tailevu South Lomaiviti open seat to political enthusiast and Fiji Labour Party candidate Isireli Vuivau. Ratu Epenisa was among those who had formed the Fijian Association Party. However, he withdrew his support from the party after his elder sister Adi Samanunu contested the 1994 elections for the SVT. ‘Family unity is very important to me’, he had said then.
The first to concede defeat was Adi Litia Cakobau, the daughter of the late Vunivalu. She had contested the Tailevu North/Ovalau open seat, a seat which my late father, as President of the Tailevu North Alliance District Council, had actively campaigned and helped Ratu George Cakobau to win in the 1970s. Adi Litia and Ratu Epenisa had contested the elections under the SVT electoral tickets. An emotional Adi Litia attributed their loss to what she described as the other Fijian parties determination to eliminate the SVT. ‘It is really sad that the other parties had preached that we had sold out the interest of Fijians. People, the Fijians, need to understand their Constitution. The rights of the indigenous is well protected. The question they should ask is what will happen now-will they be able to get extra or special protection as given to them by the SVT.’
She noted that her loss was as a result of ‘a divided Fijian front’. Adi Litia said that the ‘vanua no longer could dictate the people’s political preference but that is democracy’. ‘The people have chosen their representatives and that is what counts’, Adi Litia said. She had also moved Sitiveni Rabuka’s name for chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, while Ratu Tevita Vakalalabure of Cakaudrove moved her name for vice chairman. This clearly showed that the provinces of Tailevu and Cakaudrove wanted to control the Council, especially after the SVT lost power in the general elections to the Peoples Coalition of Labour, Fijian Association and PANU.
History is also repeating itself. Professor Ravuvu is asking us to wait for the birth of a new Constitution. If a Constitution emerges from such a chaotic and inexpert approach, we will have a Constitution with all the attendant problems of the ‘Bau Constitution’ of the 19th Century.