The man who started the coup culture in Fiji is back, against the man who ended it

Sitiveni Rabuka has returned to politics, this time opposing Frank Bainimarama, and has become the leader of SODELPA.

Sitiveni Rabuka has the political nous to put up a good challenge to Fiji’s prime minister Frank Bainimarama at the next election, according to a Fijian academic.

Steven Ratuva, who is the director of the MacMillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at New Zealand’s Canterbury University, said the newly elected leader of Fiji’s main opposition party has evolved from a coup leader into a very smart politican.

Mr Rabuka, as a colonel in Fiji’s military, led the 1987 coup and later served as prime minister from 1992 to 1999.

On Friday the SODELPA party elected him to lead the party in the run up to the next election in 2018. ?

Professor Ratuva said if the party wanted a chance in 2018 it would have to look at its strategies.

“Rabuka has the experience and also has the mindset to be able to do that and to counter Bainimarama,” said Professor Ratuva.

“Remember these are both former military officers and they are able to read each other’s mind and they would strategise in relation to what the other is doing. So it will be a very interesting tussle between them.”

SODELPA rose out of the ashes of the SDL party led by Laisenia Qarase who was ousted in a coup led by Frank Bainimarama in 2006.

Professor Ratuva said Mr Rabuka’s past as the 1987 coup leader still haunts him but it could be seen as both a strength and a weakness as he takes on the reigns of SODELPA.

“One can argue that perhaps SODELPA has lost the moral high ground but you know at the end of the day almost every politician has been tainted in some way either by the 1987 coup, the 2000 coup, the 2006 coup and I don’t think anyone is actually clean.”

I watched SODELPA in action at the last election and they make the Labour party’s dirty tricks and lies look tame.

What I can’t believe is that Steven Ratuva now thinks it is OK for a coup leader, who took over literally via the barrel of the gun, to be a possible PM of Fiji?

SOLDELPA must be quite desperate.

It is amazing how all is forgiven for Rabuka, who created the so-called ?coup culture? and failed to move Fiji forward, but not forgiven for Frank Bainimarama who has succeeded in putting Fiji on the right track and did not take over literally via the barrel of a gun.

I have always wondered about Steven Ratuva, director of the MacMillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at New Zealand’s Canterbury University. I don?t think he has really ever liked Frank Bainimarama.

Anyway, a reasonable opposition will be good for Bainimarama, then when he wins a second election perhaps people might just shut up.


– RadioNZ