One of SODELPA’s vice-presidents, Ro Dona Takalaiyale, and party leader Sitiveni Rabuka have reconciled.
Ro Dona said after their meeting last night at party headquarters in Suva, that they had ironed out their differences.
Their clash was over the question whether Ro Dona was a financial member because the party had no evidence that he had paid his $2 membership fee.
It also put in doubt his election as vice-president.
Ro Dona said party members should expect a new image, one of unity, from the party hierarchy.
“We were able to get the information that led to this reconciliation. We are now united and we’ll try and move forward with a new image,” Ro Dona said.
“We have reconciled, and everything is now sorted.”
Mr Rabuka said a statement would be released.
Party president Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, who wrote to Ro Dona questioning his membership status was not present in the meeting.
The row became public when Mr Rabuka raised the issue publicly during an interview with the Fiji Sun. What was not clear last night, however, was whether the reconciliation also covered the grievances of five senior party members led by Ro Dona.
The five had written to the party demanding a meeting to discuss the controversial memorandum of understanding between SODELPA and the People’s Democratic Party, and the election of Vijay Singh as a vice-president.
Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem had ruled that Mr Singh’s election had breached the Political Parties Decree because he was not a financial member at the time of his election.
Mr Saneem also referred the matter to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC). The five also wanted to discuss the finances of the party. They even wrote to Mr Saneem to express their concern.
Ro Dona is also the matanivanua (traditional spokesperson) for Opposition leader Ro Teimumu Kepa, in her capacity as the Marama Bale na Roko Tui Dreketi (Paramount chief of Rewa and Burebasaga).
Ro Teimumu had also sought reconciliation to resolve outstanding internal differences over a number of issues including the controversial Gaunavinaka Report. That report was critical of Ro Teimumu’s leadership.
It led to reforms that brought about significant amendments to the party constitution. Ro Teimumu became the first casualty. She had to relinquish her role as party leader, but retained her parliamentary position because the new provision requires that when a party loses an election, then the party leader automatically loses his or her position.
Ro Teimumu has told party officials that SODELPA cannot move forward without reconciliation.
It is not clear whether Ro Dona and Mr Rabuka discussed Ro Teimumu’s plan to contest the general election. She has not formally applied although she said she would.
She had put on hold her decision to retire after she was asked by her subjects to stand.