The coalition government in Fiji is embroiled in a tussle for power – as Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka announced Friday to remove Aseri Radrodro from cabinet, as minister for education – for insubordination and disobedience.

Radrodro is from the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), the junior party in the three-way ruling government in Fiji.

His party is now calling on PM Rabuka to resign as head of government, to be replaced by deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica. SODEPLA’s working committee met on the weekend and resolved to ask Rabuka to step-down – threatening to start negotiations with the Opposition Fiji First party if he doesn’t.

SODELPA General Secretary, Viliame Takayawa is disappointed that the Party was not consulted on the dismissal of Radrodro from cabinet.

“We have tolerated enough incompetence. We are here to work with them, with the current coalition government, to make sure that the coalition survives for the next four years, but this tolerance is getting slim every day. We have as part of our resolution to the management board to start having a negotiation with FijiFirst, he told FBC News on Saturday.

The Party Working Committee has also advised its sacked Minister to defy the Prime Minister’s decision and report to work today.

Responding in a televised address to the nation Sunday, Fiji’s Prime Minister warned SODELPA and Radrodro that any action to return to work today will be in defiance of the powers conferred on him in the Constitution.

“I want to make it very clear that the instruction by the SODELPA Working Committee is in defiance of the powers conferred on the Prime Minister under section 95(3)(a) of the Constitution. I am also advised that the instruction may also be in breach of the SODELPA Constitution given that it is only the Management Board that gives directives to its Members of Parliament, and not the Working Committee.

“Radrodro’s dismissal is effective from Monday 22/1/24, and from that date, he may no longer exercise the powers and privileges of the Minister for Education. Gavoka assumes the Education portfolio as of that date. However, Radrodro may attend his former office to remove his personal items and Gavoka may request him for a handover-briefing on his return from official travel, Rabuka told the nation Sunday.

PM Rabuka explained Radrodro was dismissed for terminating the appointment of the chairperson and three members of the Fiji National University (FNU) Council in May 2023

“He was advised by the Solicitor General’s Office that the decision was unlawful and must be withdrawn.

Members of the FNU Council can only be terminated in limited circumstances, with a two-thirds majority vote of the Council and only after the members have been provided an opportunity to be heard.

Rabuka said the Solicitor General met with Radrodro to urge him to comply with the legal advice. However, despite my very clear written directive and discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Manoa Kamikamica, Radrodro failed to comply with my directive, explained the Fijian leader.

He urged SODELPA and all parties involved to “conduct themselves with respect for due process and the rule of law. The progress of our great nation depends on our collective commitment to the rule of law and democratic values enshrined in our constitution, said Rabuka.

The ruling People’s Coalition Government is made up of 29 Members of Parliament from the People’s Alliance, National Federation Party and the Social Democratic Liberal Party. The Opposition Fiji First Party has 26 members.