from Radio Australia:
Fiji SDL Party changes name again to get around decree
Updated 26 February 2013, 18:27 AEST
The mainly ethnic i-Taukei party was not allowed to keep it's original Fijian name under the new political parties decree which said all parties much have English language names only.
It reformed itself as what it said was a new party - the Social Democratic Liberal or SDL Party, but an amendment to the decree forbade the use of initials of previous parties.
The party formally presented its application for registration this morning, presenting the electoral office with a list of eight thousand members - three thousand more than the decree requires.
The leader of the proposed party, Dr Tupeni Baba, explains to Bruce Hill how they intend to get around the ban on the use of their initials, SDL.
Presenter: Bruce Hill
Speaker: Dr Tupeni Baba, leader of the proposed Social Democratic Liberal Party, SODELPA, in Fiji
BABA: Yes, we have the same initials but the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua was in Fijian, and they used the LDL a lot because a lot of people could not pronounce the Fijian names for the old party. But instead of doing that we have gone into the names of the party, the Social Democratic Liberal Party, that's the proposed name. And we were advised also that the initials of those, first initials of all the names that we have might come up to SLDP, that might be seen to be objectionable. So we decided to avoid that and use an abbreviation instead, and the abbreviation is SODELPA. In that way we are trying to avoid the initials, the recognitions involving the SDL. So through abbreviation, which is also an old , acronym.
HILL: So SODELPA means Social Democratic Liberal Party?
BABA: Yes it means that, but we use the abbreviation instead of the initials.
HILL: Initially the Political Parties decree said all party names had to be in the English language, which meant the old SDL had to change its name. Now they've said this thing you're not allowed to have the same initials as a former party. Both of these things aimed fairly clearly at your party. Do you think the government really wants to register your party?
BABA: Well that's what people are saying that we would be targeted and we feel like that as well. But we are following the decree to the letter to make sure that we will be registered. And I believe that in the names that we've chosen and in the abbreviations that we have chosen for the proposed party, we will be able to succeed. Our people are also waiting to see the outcome of that because the support in the country is still solid for the people that are supporting the proposed party that we're forming.
HILL: What happens if the coup-installed military government doesn't register your party?
BABA: Well we'll come to that when it happens and they should have very good reasons. But in terms of this decree we feel confident that we have addressed all the requirements. But we cannot foresee what they will have in mind the next time round. But we are sure that we can begin within ourselves be able to answer any inquiries that may be inquired or any modifications that need to be made, and we'll be able to satisfy that. I think the proposed party, the Social Democratic Liberal Party, although different in name, the people who are sponsoring the party and signed as members, they know our relationship with the old party. They know the people that are in this proposed party. Fiji's a small place and they have the confidence to be with us to go all the way with us.
HILL: The old SDL was very much seen as an ethnic iTaukei or Fijian party. Is that still going to be true of the new SODELPA?
BABA: SODELPA's constitution is very broad based, it's multicultural, multiracial and it articulates many of those social democratic values and also some of the modern liberal values. And I think we try very much to bring people together, unify the people, I think this is needed at this time. And I think this is an aspect that is new, that is innovative in the proposed party that we're intending to form.