Rinakama: Split hurting supporters

SODELPA acting president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, right, with party member Ratu Peceli Rinakama after the SODELPA management board special meeting at the Kshatriya Hall in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

The factions within the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) will hurt loyal supporters and confuse them, says former politician and party stalwart Peceli Rinakama.

Speaking to this newspaper on Saturday, he said the division within the party was an issue that needed to be ironed out immediately.

He was part of the party’s management board meeting at Suva’s Kshatriya Hall that was chaired by the party acting vice president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

The meeting was attended by Opposition MPs Mosese Bulitavu, Ratu Antonio Lalabalavu, Jese Saukuru, Mitieli Bulanauca, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, Adi Litia Qionibaravi, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, Simione Rasova and interim party leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

“This is the problem when we have so many educated people in a political party,” Mr Rinakama said.

“As a former politician myself, I am really hurt by what has happened.

“I am one of the biggest supporters of SODELPA and it’s sad to see that some have decided to do things on their own.

“But then, I hope that issues will be ironed out and that all members will work together for a better Fiji.”

Mr Rinakama was a member of Parliament from 1999 to 2001.

Initially, he represented the Naitasiri constituency for the Fijian Association Party.

The former schoolteacher then joined Cabinet after George Speight’s coup in 2000.

He said it would be interesting to see developments within the two factions of the party.

Mr Rinakama said the split in the party had involved the vanua and the legal side of things.

“We should always remember that the vanua was there from the beginning.”

He said the faction of the party which he was a part of on Saturday seemed to be intact.

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