13 Mar 2017

Draunidalo pins hope on HOPE ahead of next Fiji polls

6:41 pm on 13 March 2017

An opposition politician in Fiji Tupou Draunidalo says the new political group she's joined aims to gain the support of the large number of voters who are undecided going into next year's election.

fiji flag at parliament

Photo: RNZI/ Sally Round

Roko Tupou left the opposition National Federation Party (NFP) in January and has been asked to lead the proposed HOPE party into the next polls, due by September next year.

A recent poll in Fiji by Tebbutt Research found 36 percent of those questioned were not sure who they wanted as prime minister and the former NFP president said they were people from all communities, fed up with thirty years of 'nonsense.'

She said HOPE would be a party for all Fijians from all communities who were sick of military intervention and the 'racial pitch' of politics.

The group is in the process of collecting the 5000 signatures needed for registration.

The National Federation Party MP Tupou Draunidalo.

The National Federation Party MP Tupou Draunidalo. Photo: RNZ / Sally Round

Roko Tupou said it was unsurprising the main opposition party Sodelpa, led by the former military colonel and prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, could not muster more than 11 percent support in the Tebbutt poll.

"I find it worrying that other parties in the opposition are not reaching the group that we need to win to get over the line.

"Looking at those polls, it's worrying. Enough of [the undecided voters] could go back to Fiji First and keep them in government," she said.

"It's panic stage."

Roko Tupou, one of three NFP MPs elected in the 2014 election, was suspended from parliament last June over remarks she made in the house.

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Photo: Fiji Parliament

The suspension was for the remainder of the parliamentary term.

After six months unable to take her place in the legislature, she resigned from the NFP presidency.

In an interview with RNZ International she said she wanted to reach another group of people in the difficult job of moving "to where we all want to go".

"It's somewhere where I can be more effective. That's all it is. My skillset can be more effective in the new setting."

"The NFP has its appeal and that appeal, I think, has increased over the last three years and I'm very happy that it has and I'm sure it'll gain more when it goes to the elections next year."

She said the Fiji First government had run its term as, by the next election, the Bainimarama government would have been in power for 12 years.

The Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at Government House in Auckland

The Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama at Government House in Auckland. Photo: RNZ/ALEX PERROTTET

She said it was unacceptable for the instigator of Fiji's first coup, Sitiveni Rabuka, to take over from Frank Bainimarama as prime minister.

Mr Rabuka was elected leader of the main opposition party, Sodelpa, last year, marking a return to politics after he led the SVT party to power in 1992.

Roko Tupou, the daughter and stepdaughter of three deposed politicians, said it was not only "bad imagery".

"His government didn't have a very good record when it left office. It made decisions so that when it left office we had another two and a half coups."

"We just can't have that instability anymore in Fiji."

Queue at Andrews Primary School, Nadi to vote in Fiji Elections.

Queue at Andrews Primary School, Nadi to vote in the 2014 Fiji Elections. Photo: Sally Round

She said she was not worried about splitting the opposition vote given, combined, the leaders of the opposition parties recently polled just 11 to 13 percent as preferred prime minister.

"I think the more parties the merrier. It's a democracy. I mean it gives people the variety to choose from and I think the Fijian people know more now than they did in 2014."

Asked if she could work in coalition with all opposition parties including a party led by Mr Rabuka, she said a government of national unity should be pursued in the interest of peace.

Former Fiji prime minister and two-time coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka.

Former Fiji prime minister and two-time coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Photo: AFP PHOTO / Torsten BLACKWOOD

"But quite frankly I wouldn't want anything to do with him."

"People in this country are fed up listening to the same nonsense for the last thirty years."

"Symbolic are the tents where people live, and tents where children have to go to school with mud floors. In the 21st century that is a disgrace."

She said if HOPE succeeded in being registered she would put herself up for the leadership at the party's Annual General Meeting.

She said she was flattered and humbled a second political group had asked her to lead them.

Fiji flag flies on the rooftop of parliament

Photo: RNZI/ Sally Round

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