Photo: Ronald Kumar.
The Fijian Elections Office (FEO) has suspended the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) for the next 30 days.
Questions need to be answered.
The PDP was formed by a group of people who said they strongly believed in the needs of the workers, those who are underprivileged, women, and the younger generation.
The party’s suspension is because of a breach following the resignation of then party leader Lynda Tabuya. The PDP was required under section 11 of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Act, 2013 [ACT] to update the Register of Political Parties and this has not been done till to-date. And the Elections Office clearly states that under the legal framework, the Registered Officer of the Party is the key contact and liaison with the Fijian Elections Office and the PDP has failed and/or neglected to appoint a suitable person as per section 11 since December 21 when Lynda Tabuya resigned.
This was clearly explained by the Registrar of Political Parties, Mohammed Saneem, in a recent press statement. The PDP has 60 days under the Act to remedy the breach and the suspension will be immediately uplifted following the remedy.
So what does the party have to say to those 7000 supporters who signed in support of the registration of the party and to the more than 15,000 people who voted for the party in 2014?
A week ago former party leader Ms Tabuya told this newspaper that she verbally informed the Registrar of Political Party Mohammed Saneem of her resignation as PDP leader.
So what happens now to the party?
It was earlier this month that former PDP members Vijay Singh and Ms Tabuya resigned from PDP to join the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA). Mr Singh was appointed a vice president and Ms Tabuya was given a ticket to contest the 2018 General Elections. Both were congratulated by SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Ms Tabuya had earlier claimed that it was a party decision for PDP to merge with SODELPA.
And now because she was deemed to have resigned together with Mr Singh, the question supporters will ask is; Was there ever a consultation with party members to appoint a new leader for PDP?
Or are there any board members left within PDP who are bold enough to air their concerns?
Since the announcement of Ms Tabuya joining SODELPA party members along with their supporters have obviously been left at sixes and sevens.
Last year a PDP pioneer, Adi Sivia Qoro resigned from the party saying it was prudent for her to step back even though she remained committed to the values and principles the party stood for.
Earlier this year Aman Ravindra-Singh resigned as the general secretary saying it was due to “creative differences”. A sure sign that the party was starting to crumble because leadership itself was not firm.
Has the leadership of PDP sold out workers and the younger generation? Will the suspension of the party cause its demise? Time will tell.
To resign from a political party, according to FEO, the legal framework states that a member of a political party who intends to resign from the political party shall give a written notice prior to his or her resignation to the political party and the Registrar.
Your guess is good as mine if Ms Tabuya and Mr Singh actually followed these requirements.
The legal framework further states that; a person shall not be a member or an office holder of more than one proposed political party or political party registered under this Act at the same time.
Were Ms Tabuya and Mr Singh still PDP stalwarts while being endorsed as SODELPA members?
They owe it to party supporters to answer the many questions which have emerged in the wake of their defection to SODELPA.