"You are aware of the circumstances that led to my rejection as a Candidate for Party Leader, as well as a Party Candidate in the 2014 General Elections, as conveyed to me by the then President of the Party, Ratu Silivenusi Waqausa. I was told that my record as Coup Leader of the 1987 Coup would jeopardize the Party’s chances in the Elections, and the Party Leader and now Leader of the Opposition, Hon Ro Teimumu Kepa, the Party’s Youth Wing and the Party’s Women’s Wing strongly objected to my being Party Leader and also my being a Candidate. Ratu Waqausa also stated, in the presence of a very good friend and comrade in arms during our Army careers, that the Hon Leader of the Opposition, also threatened to resign from the Party, if I was allowed to contest the Elections as a Party candidate.. I have not changed – I am still the person who led the military takeover of Parliament and changed the government in 1987. Interestingly, the Hon Leader of the Opposition’s late husband served as Attorney General in the post-Coup Government from 1987 – 1992. Other Party candidates in the 2014 General Elections and Party Officials were under my command in the Army from 1987 to when I resigned in 1991..."
Sitiveni Rabuka to Sodelpa general secretary; see Full Letter below:
It is with a very heavy heart that I write this letter to you in your capacity as Secretary General of the Party I had wanted to join to further my political service to the people of Fiji and the country I love.
I also find that I have no other alternative but to write to you in regards to the Page 1 article in today’s (Monday 31 August) Fiji Sun newspaper headed ‘Rabuka eyed for SODELPA post?’, and other matters.
I was approached by ‘phone by Hon Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, who, I believe, was recently elected President of SODELPA, at 1458 hours, Friday 28th August, informing me that there is to be a Special General Meeting of SODELPA at the Epworth Hall on Saturday 5th September 2015. He also informed me that I would be nominated to be Vice President of the Party. He did not inform me that my nomination will require an amendment to the Party Constitution to allow for a third Party Vice President, nor did I know if there are other Vice Presidents of the Party. As you know, I have not been active in any of the Party matters since I was barred from contesting the Elections last year.
To implement this course of action intended at the Special General Meeting would tantamount to ‘tailor-making’ the Constitution of the Party to suit an agenda, namely my inclusion as a Party Official.
If the Party was to do this, then it would weaken its own arguments against the Fiji First Party and Government, whom the Party alleges changed the National Constitution to suit their own individual and group situations and requirements.
You will be aware that I am now not a Financial, or Card – Carrying member of SODELPA. I did not pay my Candidate’s Nomination Fees before the General Elections of 2014 when my application to stand under the Party banner for that General Election was rejected. I contributed to some candidates’ campaign because I thought those candidates would serve the people of my village, Tikina and Province well because they understood the needs of my area of Navatu and Cakaudrove, and I also believed they could contribute constructively to the development of our nation.
You are aware of the circumstances that led to my rejection as a Candidate for Party Leader, as well as a Party Candidate in the 2014 General Elections, as conveyed to me by the then President of the Party, Ratu Silivenusi Waqausa.
I was told that my record as Coup Leader of the 1987 Coup would jeopardize the Party’s chances in the Elections, and the Party Leader and now Leader of the Opposition, Hon Ro Teimumu Kepa, the Party’s Youth Wing and the Party’s Women’s Wing strongly objected to my being Party Leader and also my being a Candidate. Ratu Waqausa also stated, in the presence of a very good friend and comrade in arms during our Army careers, that the Hon Leader of the Opposition, also threatened to resign from the Party, if I was allowed to contest the Elections as a Party candidate.
The final decision, you will recall, was officially conveyed to me by Ratu Waqausa in the presence of one of the members of the Selection Panel, Mr Sekonaia Tui Mailekai, after Mr Laisenia Qarase had excused himself to attend to another pressing business.
I accepted the final decision that was conveyed to me, and expressed my regrets that those members of the Party who opposed my joining the Party and contesting the Elections under the Party banner, had not forgiven me for 1987. I also conveyed my regrets that the Youth and Women’s Wings that champion ‘non-violence’ found it acceptable not to object to my former son in law who brutally beat up my daughter before divorcing her and marrying a woman who became a senior member of the Party’s Women’s Wing and its PR/Media Cell.
I also regretted that the Party did not consider my participation in the corporate leadership of our nation between the years 1992 and 1999, when I was Prime Minister, and particularly my leading the Government Members of Parliament to work in a very cordial manner with the Members of the Opposition, many of whom were victims of the Coup I led in 1987, to reach an unprecedented accord in the promulgation of the all-embracing Constitution Amendment Act of 1997 – the Constitution SODELPA now wishes to champion and bring back into operation.
I do not know if the claim that the Hon Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu had called for the Hon Ro Teimumu Kepa to reconsider her position as Leader of the Opposition after leading SODELPA to an Election defeat in the 2014 Elections, as made in one of the dallies a few days ago is factual or not, but, The Hon Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu made a similar call for me to resign the SVT leadership when he called on me with Hon Ratu Inoke Kubuabola (then a member of SVT), to take personal responsibility for the SVT loss and resign as Party Leader. I accepted their call and resigned which paved the way for Hon Ratu Inoke to become Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition in 1999 until Speight’s Coup of 2000. I eventually resigned from Parliament after I was elected Chairman of the Council of Chiefs because it was a ‘Public Office’ and it contravened the Constitution to be both – a Public Officer and Member of Parliament.
Now that I have been invited to attend the SGM, and accept nomination to be a Party Vice President, although I am not a Financial Member of the Party, I wonder what things have changed:
· I have not changed – I am still the person who led the military takeover of Parliament and changed the government in 1987. Interestingly, the Hon Leader of the Opposition’s late husband served as Attorney General in the post-Coup Government from 1987 – 1992. Other Party candidates in the 2014 General Elections and Party Officials were under my command in the Army from 1987 to when I resigned in 1991;
· I am still the person that led SVT to defeat in the 1999 General Elections;
· Have the Party Youth Wing and the Party Women’s Wing changed their stance on my participating as a member of SODELPA?
· Has Hon Ro Teimumu Kepa changed her views about my becoming a member of the Party she founded?
These, General Secretary, are some of the issues that SODELPA needs to sort out before getting me involved in Party matters.
Changing the Party rules or its Constitution in order to get me into the Party will not change the views of Party members opposed to my membership of the Party. If anything, it could further divide the Party and erode the support it currently enjoys.
With respect, I feel that the Party should have been on a Consolidation & Growth journey since the end of Elections last year. The Officers and Members of the Party should have been visiting their supporters and growing their numbers within Fiji in order to grow the Party support base and consolidate its support among the constituents. The Party should not risk losing the support of those already in the Party by including someone that some existing members find objectionable.
A final word, Mr. Secretary General, one cannot save a leaking boat by changing the Captain or the Engineer; one must fix the leak (no pun intended).
With the foregoing and if I have not officially done so before, I herewith tender my resignation from SODELPA, and wish you well in your future endeavors.
No citizen is insignificant in a true democracy. Even Rabuka.
It was Rabuka who triggered the death of democracy in Fiji in 1987. True, that we as a nation are yet to re-emerge from the resulting darkness of that tragedy - but maybe Rabuka has now seen the light. The forsaking of the Sod Party, by Rabuka, is the first right step.
Remember, the worst of the racist onslaught on the Indo-Fijian community in Fiji, was at the hands of the ‘vote-bought elected’ reign of SDL Qarase 2001/2006. Even the era of Rabuka pales in comparison.
The image of Rabuka (at the time of his political exit -1999) is one of a moderate / mediator. Rabuka ‘honored’ his pledge to have his imposed 1990 Constitution reviewed within 5 years from the 1992 elections. Rabuka’s govt. committed genuine passion / resources towards the Constitutional Review process. The Reeves CRC enjoyed independence, respect and acceptability from all the People of Fiji.
It has been rightly said that the Reeves CRC “had a ‘healing’ effect on those who felt their ‘sense of belonging’ in the country of their birth abruptly and rudely fractured by the 1987 military coup d’état.” [Fiji First Party 12/9/12 Ghai CRC Submissions] It was the Reeves’ CRC which in Rabuka’s words delivered “an unprecedented accord in the promulgation of the all-embracing Constitution Amendment Act of 1997…” [above].
It was we the PEOPLE of Fiji who took ownership of our 1997 Constitution and it belong to us the People of Fiji.
Commodore Bainimarama abrogated the Peoples’ 1997 Constitution during the chaos and mayhem of the GS 2000 attempted coup. Challenged by a (dispossessed /battered) dalo farmer from Muaniweni, Chandrika Prasad, then a refugee at the Girmit Center in Lautoka, the Court(s) ruled that the Peoples’ 1997 Constitution, vested with the ‘will’ of the People of Fiji, a symbol of our nations’ Soverienty – and it CANNOT BE ABROGATED. It is, as yet, a standing legal dictum which has not been over-ruled.
As an experienced and senior citizen of Fiji, Rabuka has all the rights, to have a say in our prevailing political dilemma (which off course is also of his making) and perhaps Rabuka can show us a peaceful way out of the entrapment /enslavement of the People of Fiji from -the FRAUD Khaiyum’s 2013 Constitution of Fiji.