|Qarase: Harnessing huge support that will need to be transferred to a new leader.|
|Ro Teimumu Kepa|
Voreqe Bainimarama's nemesis, however, continues to wield influence from Korovou: his SDL party met today to find an English name as required under the new Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure Decree with leaders saying he's still leader.
The party has agreed on the Social Democratic Liberal Party as suggested by the party's patron and former Education Minister and Rewa chief, Ro Teimumu Kepa.
The party wants to start registering voters but say it'll wait for the 71 year old's appeals to be heard in court on February the 25th: the deadline for the political parties to comply with the new decree is February the 15th.
With the regime determine to nobble SDL, the party is unlikely to admit publicly just yet that it will have to seek Qarase's blessing to put someone else at the helm for the 2014 elections, expected to be either Jone Kubuabola or the more likely Ro Kepa.
With insiders maintaining in reports that have even gone to Bainimarama that Qarase has the support of 62 per cent Fijians, 25% Indian and 12% others and Bainimarama just 48 per cent, 39% and 10%, the trick will be transferring this backing to the new SDL leader.
FTUC and FLP tussle
As of yet, none of the parties are talking up a merger - all are choosing to fight for their individual survival despite a united call for an extension to the February 15th deadline and an appeal in the courts mounted by lawyer Rajendra Chaudhry.
All will re-register with the biggest tussle between FTUC and the Fiji Labour Party, both of whom are already fighting for the support of unionised workers.
FTUC has chosen the wrong time to start a new party, following a split with FLP and is unlikely to get the support of union members. It helped form FLP but did not get union members/workers support, leaving it to become an Indian party.
Having Felix Anthony and Daniel Urai at the helm doesn't help. Both are political lightweights and haven't done community level work, just trade union work for which they are seen as globe trotters for more than half the year.
More decree pitfalls noted
The general secretary of FICTU, Attar Singh, has meanwhile warned that none of the political parties will be safe - even if they re-register. He says the parties are essentially left in-operational with officials required to re-register or face fines or jail and there's no gurantee registrations will be approved.
"It must also be understood that given the onerous requirements under the decree registration of parties is a very difficult process and there is a real possibility of applications being refused. In such cases appeals to the High Court is allowed but that could take months."
He says on the other hand parties that succeed in the registration process will need to operate full-time party offices in every division.
"Given the restrictions of party funding and support, running a party will be a financially impossible risking de-registration. A small party will need at least $100, 000 a year for fixed expenses and a similar amount for operational expenses apart from initial setting up costs.
"All this indicates that political parties may not be around to contest 2014 elections because of the requirements of the decree."
The UPP leader, Mick Beddoes, is meanwhile challenging the regime to reveal who its political leaders are. He says if there is going to be the emergence of 'new political leaders' as the regime keeps talking about, people would like to know who these leaders are and who and what do they represent - 'coups and military intervention or the rule of law?'
Beddoes says it's time for Fiji's young leaders to step up.
Editor's Note: See C4.5's Facebook for the full statements from Singh and Beddoes