Tuesday, February 19, 2008

GCC Prestige Further Eroded by Illegal Regime

Bainimarama 'is confused'
Saturday, February 23, 2008-www.fijitimes.com

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is confused in appointing himself as Great Council of Chiefs chairman, says Vuda chief Ratu Tevita Momoedonu.

Ratu Tevita said everyone remembered him saying chiefs should go and drink homebrew under a mango tree, "and yet he has turned around to head it". "That's the biggest irony of the century."

Ratu Tevita said Commodore Bainimarama's actions would not do justice to the people of Fiji, especially the indigenous people.

Who is he, chief asks

Friday, February 22, 2008 - www.fijitimes.com

Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua during an interview with The Fiji Times at SDL headquarters yesterday+ Enlarge this image

Tui Namosi Ratu Suliano Matanitobua during an interview with The Fiji Times at SDL headquarters yesterday

THE Turaga Na Tui Namosi, Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, said yesterday if he was stopped from being a member of the Great Council of Chiefs then no other chief in his province would be a member of the august body.

He said his forefathers, from his namesake Ratu Suliano Matanitobua, who was one of the chiefs who ceded Fiji to Great Britain in 1874, had been members of the Great Council of Chiefs down the line through the ages.

"Why should I not be when my forebearers have always been members of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga," Ratu Suliano said.

"Chiefs cannot be separated from politics.

"Chiefs make decisions for the good and welfare of their people and the vanua."

Ratu Suliano said in his province there was only one Turaga-i-Taukei and that was the Tui Namosi and no one else.

"If I do not go in, where will they get the three members from?

"I also wonder if the advisers and legal drafters understand what a turaga i taukei is?

"There could be other provinces facing the same situation as Namosi and they cannot make up the three members under the so-called criteria of membership.

"It is even worse where the turaga i taukei have not been installed because of a delay or title dispute."

Ratu Suliano said the interim Government's amateurish and ill-informed interference in the matanitu-i-taukei or Fijian administration was an abuse of the indigenous Fijian customs and traditions.

"Why has he appointed himself as chairman of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga," he asked.

"Did he not say after he unlawfully removed the elected government that no military officer would benefit from the takeover?"

Ratu Suliano said the plot was clear and that "this coup is all about dismantling the Fijian chiefly system, customs, traditions and their institutions".

"Who is the leader of the army to dictate the direction and the decisions of the GCC with the army's political agenda?

"Commodore Bainimarama is not a turaga i taukei but a public officer."

Ratu Suliano asked why the commander should appoint members of the GCC.

"Let the representatives of the people, that is, the provincial council appoint their reps in the GCC because they know best."

Fiji ruled by law of the jungle says Nasautoka chief

Friday, February 22, 2008

Update: 5.20pm Former Great Council of Chief member and Nasautoka chief Ratu Semi Seruvakula has labelled interim Prime Minsiter and coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama a dictator.

Ratu Semi who is the father of former military senior officer Colonel Viliame Seruvakula said Fiji was being ruled through the law of the jungle.

Ratu Semi was reacting to the news that Bainimarama appointed himself again as the GCC chairman on top of being the prime minister as well as military commander of Fiji.

Oath limits council: Chief

February 21, 2008 - www.fijitimes.com

THE new-look Great Council of Chiefs will not be able to carry out its constitutional role fully if members take an oath of allegiance to the President, says Cakaudrove paramount chief Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Ratu Naiqama said the oath was prescribed in a gazette issued by interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama last week. He said the oath would put the GCC's powers to remove the President in doubt.

"Wouldn't that be affecting the full effect of the GCC if members were to take an oath of allegiance to the President?" Ratu Naiqama said.

Section 93 of the Constitution gives chiefs the power to remove the President from office under certain conditions.

He said absolute sovereignty in Fiji did not exist but Fiji was exceptional compared to countries like New Zealand and Australia.

"In New Zealand, the Maori's own a small majority of land. In Fiji, 90 per cent of the land is owned by Fijians."

Ratu Naiqama said council members would face a conflict of interest if faced with the question of removing the President from office because they had sworn allegiance to the man they appointed as head of the country. "GCC appoints the President. Now the council has to swear before the every man they appoint. That's the conflict of interest here." "What must be realised is that paramount chiefs and chiefs are independent of each other.

GCC order is flawed: Chief

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - www.fijitimes.com

Ratu Tuuakitau Cokanauto ponders a question during a press conference in Suva, yesterday.+ Enlarge this image

Ratu Tuuakitau Cokanauto ponders a question during a press conference in Suva, yesterday.

THE taskforce commissioned by the interim Government to review the Great Council of Chiefs has admitted that the gazette which prescribes the role of the new-look council is flawed.

Taskforce head Ratu Tu'uakitau Cokanauto yesterday said what was stated in the gazette was a "deviation" from the recommendation they made following widespread consultation with chiefs and provinces around the country.

The gazette, dated earlier this month under interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's name, stipulates that as interim Minister for Indigenous Affairs, not only does he appoint himself as chairman of the council but is also the appointing authority of the future members of the council.

This, Ratu Tu'uakitau, said failed to reflect the apolitical stance of the new-look council which the team had recommended.

"It's not vakaturaga of us to go back and present something contrary to discussions we had," he said.

Ratu Tu'uakitau said he would seek an audience with Commodore Bainimarama, who returns from Indian this week, to iron out issues raised in the gazette with the view to improving it.

He said he only dealt with his line minister Commodore Bainimarama over the matter and would not hold an audience with the Attorney-General's chambers to discuss misfits in the gazette.

He said the aim of the review was to remove political influence from the institution and admitted he did not know why or how the inclusion of the minister was introduced in the gazette.

Ratu Tu'uakitau said he had cited the draft gazette before it was published and was dumbfounded when news broke earlier this week that the gazette failed to fully reflect the team's recommendation to Commodore Bainimarama.

He said the prime minister, president and vice president were to be removed as council members in a bid to maintain the sanctity of the institution leaving the president as the appointing authority of the council.

Changes to Two Important Recommendations
Publish date/time: 20/02/2008 - www.fijivillage.com

Great Council of Chiefs Taskforce Chairman, Ratu Tuakitau Cokanauto said although the interim government has made changes to two important recommendations the taskforce submitted, it does not mean that their work is a waste of time and taxpayers money.

Cokanauto defends the work they have carried out and said the people supported the changes proposed by the taskforce. The Bau high chief said it would be not Vakaturaga if the interim government reject their recommendation and add something else.

Ratu Tuakitau Cokanauto said he will seek a meeting with the Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama on the cabinet decision which has led to the Indigenous Affairs Minister being appointed Chairman of the GCC.

He revealed that they were not consulted on changes to the GCC regulations.

The Taskforce was appointed to gather submissions from people around the country and forwarded its recommendations to the cabinet late last year.

Bainimarama selfish, says Ro Teimumu

Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - www.fijitimes.com

REWA paramount chief, Ro Teimumu Kepa says interim Prime Minister and military commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's taking on the position of chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs is a self-centered decision.

Ro Teimumu was reacting to Commodore Bainimarama's name being gazetted as chairman of the GCC.

"At the beginning of the (December 2006) coup he assured the nation that no military officer would benefit from the coup," the former Education Minister said.

"Then he took up position of President, then he became Prime Minister, then co-chair of the National Council to Build a Better Fiji and now he is the chairman of the GCC."

Ro Teimumu also wondered what advice the military council dominated by Fijian colonels had given the interim Prime Minister on Fijian institutions.

"I would be interested to know what they have told him particularly in the latest issue," she said.

"How can they sit back and watch the destruction of the institutions that protect the rights and interests of the Fijian people?"

Ro Teimumu said Commodore Bainimarama's actions showed he was acting in his own interest.

"While they have been portraying the nation's larger interest what we are seeing is the emergence of the interest of one person."

Chief questions military council’s silence
20 FEB 2008
Rewa high chief and head of the Burebasaga confederacy Ro Teimumu Kepa has questioned the Fiji military council’s silence on matters of paramount interest to indigenous Fijians.

Responding to the latest development that interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has appointed himself chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ro Teimumu said this should be of utmost concern to Fijians in the military council.

She said these are the very people who should be protecting the Fijian structure for this generation and the generations to come.

“After all what is the military there for? Why aren’t they talking? Are they afraid of him (Bainimarama)?” she questioned.

“Bainimarama doesn’t move from point A to B without the approval of the military council.

“Aren’t they supposed to be protecting our land, our heritage? Why are they dismantling the Fijian structure?” questioned the former Education minister in the ousted Laisenia Qarase-government.

She asked how they can just sit back when Fijian institutions and the very heart of the Fijian structure is being targeted.

Comments are being sought from the military.

The new-look GCC will have a total of 52 members, 10 less than the previous GCC.

This includes three representatives each from the 14 Fijian provinces and Rotuma, while Bainimarama will appoint six co-opt members who are chiefs that have been traditional installed and recorded in the register of Native Landowners administered by the Native Lands Commission.

Govt wanted political link to chiefs' council
20 FEB 2008 - www.fijilive.com
Fiji’s Cabinet decided there should be a direct link to the Great Council of Chiefs to reflect their views in matters of national affairs, says acting interim Prime Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Responding to criticism against the appointment of interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama as GCC chair, Ratu Epeli said Cabinet decided that the council be chaired by none other than a full Cabinet minister and the minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs.

“Cabinet deviated from the recommendation of the Great Council of Chiefs task force because it felt the Minister for Fijian Affairs should not only continue to be a member but that he should also be Chairman of the GCC,” he told journalists at a press conference.

“Therefore, Commodore Bainimarama as Prime Minister and as Minister for Indigenous Affairs in this case is the Chairperson of the GCC under the regulations.

“It must be clarified in this case that PM Commodore Bainimarama did not directly appoint himself as GCC chairperson,” Ratu Epeli said.

GCC taskforce secretary Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo earlier said the announcement took them by surprise.

“We had deliberately left the President, vice president, Prime Minister and the Fijian affairs minister from the GCC set-up to avoid any political influence,” Ratu Josateki said.

New-look GCC illegal: Youth group
20 FEB 2008
The Young Peoples Concerned Network is unhappy with moves by Fiji’s interim regime to hand pick chiefs who sit on the Great Council of Chiefs.

Spokesperson Peter Waqavonovono said this move goes against the very principle of involving Fiji's chiefly leaders in politics and the decision making process in the country.

And moves by the interim Prime Minister to sit as GCC chairman are disappointing and is illegal, he said.

“We are under the impression that this GCC Regulation Decree is a decree establishing a Minister of Fijian Affairs Council and not a sovereign and independent council of chiefs.”

“The new look GCC and its selection criteria is a 'Slap in Face' to indigenous youths who look up to chiefs for direction and wisdom.

”We do agree however with the increased role the GCC has been given according to section 8 of the GCC Regulation Decree 2008, which describes and expands the role of the GCC to articulate legislations and mediate over national issues. This however is undermined by restrictions placed on membership and a dictatorial role exercised by the Minister of Fijian Affairs,” Waqavonovono said.

He added that provinces and chiefly leaders should have the right to pick their representatives to the GCC regardless of past convictions, economic failures, allegations, political affiliations and ideology.

GCC team taken for a ride: Nawalowalo - www.fijilive.com
20 FEB 2008
Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs taskforce team believes that interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is not getting proper advice from the interim Government.

The team was commissioned by the interim Government to review the operations and membership of the council.

Taskforce secretary, Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo said Bainimarama was ‘misinformed’ to take up the chairmanship of the council.

“We believe that the people who are behind him are not giving him proper advice and that’s the reason he has taken that position.”

“This has somewhat come as a shock for us and we believe that we were somehow used to bring the GCC report into context.”

“It was clear in the report that whoever shall join the council should be apolitical, but this agreement has been broken and he (Bainimarama) is setting a bad example for other chiefs.”

“The report by the taskforce we believe is the only road to reconciliation and the road to democracy but this was not honored by the Prime Minister.”

Nawalowalo said the taskforce was never given a chance to discuss this matter and were surprised that the position was filled without consulting them.

He said this could be the biggest downfall of the interim Government.

“I can tell you that these people are playing with fire because the GCC council should not be taken as a ride by anyone except for chiefs who have been approved to be in there.”

He said whatever is contained in the GCC review report is what the chiefs of Fiji have decided upon and this has been endorsed by the President himself.

“The President had given his approval but when it came back to Cabinet they did not agree so they made a few changes before recommending the Prime Minister as chairman.”

“It’s pointless to say that we have done a good job to get the report in place just because somebody did not adhere to the rules and regulations.”

GCC team seeks answers from Fiji PM

19 FEB 2008-www.fijilive.com

The chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs review team, Ratu Tu’uakitau Cokanauto, wants interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to explain why he appointed himself chairman of the GCC.

Cokanauto said his taskforce had recommended a new look-GCC that will be apolitical. However, Bainimarama, the interim Indigenous Affairs Minister, has indicated in a gazette dated February 13 that he will have significant influence in its operations.

“Our recommendation was that the council would appoint a chairman from amongst its members and the appointing authority of the GCC would be the President. But in this instant it is the Minister of Indigenous Affairs,” Cokanauto told fijilive.

Cokanauta said he is concerned that recommendations made to the interim Cabinet last Tuesday “was a result of our consultation with the ‘vanua’”.

“I want a meeting with the PM on his return from India before this matter gets out of hand,” he said.

“At the end of the day we have to take the recommendations back to the ‘vanua’. But it’s now different to what the ‘vanua’ agreed to.

“It’s going to be a battle.”

Cokanauto said Cabinet has agreed that the taskforce revisits the provincial councils at the end of August to tell them of the approved recommendation.

“We must go back there with a clear conscience,” insisted Cokanauto.

"It's not 'vakaturaga' (chiefly) to go back to them with something totally different.

Bainimarama is expected back in the country on Friday.

GCC gazette was flawed: Ratu Tu'uakitau

Tuesday, February 19, 2008-www.fijitimes.com

THE chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs Taskforce Ratu Tu'uakitau Cokanauto said the gazette regarding the new chairman was flawed.

In a press conference that just ended recently, Ratu Tu'uakitau said the taskforce team had recommended the depoliticisation of the GCC.

However he said they were surprised when the gazette came out with the interim Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama being the new chairman and also appointing authority of the council itself.

Ratu Tu'uakitau said they would await Commodore Bainimarama's return to discuss the matter.

However a number of chiefs have come out strongly against the announcement.

Bainimarama using self agenda: Ro Teimumu

Tuesday, February 19, 2008 - www.fijitimes.com

Update: 3:28PM THE paramount chief of Rewa Ro Teimumu Kepa said Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's taking on the position of Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs was a self centered decision.

Reacting to Mr Bainimarama's name being gazetted as Chairman of the GCC showed that while the interim regime was portraying a macro picture the actions showed that a micro or self centered position was forming.

"At the beginning of the coup he assured the nation that no military officer would benefit fromm the coup," the former Education Minister said.

"Then he took up position of President, then he became Prime Minister, then co-chair of National Council to Build a Better Fiji and now he is the chairman of the GCC.

Ro Teimumu also asked what had the military council, dominated by Fijian colonels, advised the Prime Minister on Fijian institutions.

"I would be interested to know what they have told him particularly in the latest issue," she said.

"How can they sit back and watch the destruction of the institutions that protect the rights and interests of the Fijian people."

Bainimarama is GCC head

FREDERICA ELBOURNE - www.fijiitimes.com
Tuesday, February 19, 2008

INTERIM Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has appointed himself chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs following a gazette issued under his name last week.

Dated February 13, 2008, the gazette on the Fijian Affairs Act states that each of the 14 provinces and Rotuma will have three representatives who have demonstrated exemplary leadership at vanua level and in the community at large.

As chairman, Commodore Bainimarama will appoint members that make up 52 members of the council who have been traditional installed and recorded as such in the register of Native Landowners administered by the Native Lands Commission.

The previous council had 62 members. Former life member Sitiveni Rabuka said a noticeable difference was the appointment of council members by the minister.

However, interim Attorney- General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the minister appoints on the recommendation of the provincial councils. Commodore Bainimarama will appoint six co-opt members who are chiefs by right, the gazette said.

Each member will take an oath of allegiance before the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo and can seek re-appointment at the end of their three year term.

Allowances will be prescribed by the chairman a matter which has not been deliberated in full as yet, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said. For members who want to resign, the date of their resignation will be effective from the date of the minister's endorsement, the gazette said. The minister as chairman may suspend, discipline or dismiss any member who brings disrepute to the council. Members are disqualified if they:

are an un-discharged bankrupt;

are serving a prison term;

have a previous conviction in the 10 years leading up to their appointment in the council, particularly if they have been released from prison after serving a term of imprisonment of more than six months, whether as an in-mate or extra-murual prisoner, or, completed community service order;

were held public office, including Senate and the House of Representatives over the past seven years preceeding their appointment to the council;

contested the general elections;

were office bearers of a political party;

have unsound mind in respect of the Mental Treatment Act;

have allegiance, obedience or adherence to a power or State outside Fiji including being a citizen or resident of another country.

SDL slams interim PM on GCC appointment
19 FEB 2008 - www.fijilive.com
Fiji’s former ruling political party, the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua, is worried that the Great Council of Chiefs is being used as a mockery by the country’s interim Government.

The SDL, which comprises a majority of indigenous Fijians, says the appointment of interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama as the GCC chairman is an insult to all the chiefs of this country.

The GCC is the highest Fijian institution in the land and comprises chiefs from all the 14 provinces in the country.

SDL party spokesman, Peceli Kinivuwai said Bainimarama disregarded the chiefly system altogether by appointing himself chair of the council.

“This is a disgrace to the Fijian protocol and also a mockery of the chiefly system.”

“No one has come in forcefully without being legally appointed and made himself chairman of the GCC and to make it worse he is not a chief to be in that position.”

Kinivuwai said Bainimarama is not taking any advice from anyone and is always doing things on his own.

“We really feel sorry for the chiefs as a lot of them are really embarrassed with the way the interim Government is running things.”

“They are being insulted and embarrassed with this act of shame by a commoner who has proclaimed the chair by force,” Kinivuwai said.

“What will become of this proud nation if our chiefs are being treated this way because it is now clear that we don’t have any respect at all for them?”

GCC review team meets - www.fijilive.com
19 FEB 2008
Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) taskforce team is meeting in Suva to discuss interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s self-appointment as chair of the council.

Taskforce member Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo confirmed this to Fijilive today.

A statement is expected from the taskforce later this afternoon.

On whether or not the appointment was legal, Nawalowalo said Bainimarama could appoint himself in his capacity as (interim) Minister for Indigenous Affairs, as provided for under the Fijian Affairs regulation.

Asked whether the team supported his appointment, Nawalowalo said “it is not a matter of whether we support him or not”.

“It is none of our business because we were mandated to carry out a task and we have done our job. What they have done was at their discretion,” Nawalowalo said.

“Maybe he has his own reasons on why he appointed himself to be the chairman of the GCC but it is better that the question be posed to him,” he said.

“This (appointment) has come as a total surprise to us because this is not one of our recommendations at all – for the Prime Minister to be chair of the GCC. It really wasn’t expected,” Nawalowalo said.

He indicated it was not appropriate for Bainimarama to be the GCC chair because he currently held a public office being interim PM and interim Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

GCC chairmanship not easy: Tui Namosi
19 FEB 2008
Namosi high chief Ratu Suliano Matanitobua is skeptical about the appointment of Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama as the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Speaking from the highlands of Namosi today, Ratu Suliano said the appointment will be an extra burden for Bainimarama as he already has a number of portfolios under his belt.

“The heavy workload will be immense. It’s too much for him.”

Ratu Suli said being the chairman of the GCC will not be easy as it requires good decision making and someone who knows Fijian protocol well.

“No one is appointed anyhow to the chair. To sit up there you need to have the blessing of other chiefs.”

The Tui Tavua Ratu Ovini Bokini was reluctant to comment on the issue saying that some issues regarding the GCC are still before the courts.

“Those of us who have taken the interim Government to court will not comment at this stage until we are instructed by our lawyers to do so.

Task Force Surprised after appointment
19/02/2008 -www.fijivillage.com

The Great Council of Chiefs Taskforce did not recommend to cabinet that the Interim Prime Minister and Minister for Indigenous Affairs should be appointed as the new Chairperson of the Great Council of Chiefs.

A taskforce member said the appointment of Bainimarama contradicts what they have recommended. He said their recommendation was that the President, Vice President and Prime Minister should not be part of the GCC since they want the institution to be apolitical.

He said they discussed the issue with the GCC Taskforce Chair Ratu Tuakitau Cokanauto yesterday and are expected to comment later today.

‘PM wants President, VP of own choice’
19 FEB 2008-www.fijilive.com
Fiji’s interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama’s self-appointment as Great Council of Chiefs chair will ultimately suit his agenda of choosing the President and vice-President of the country, says a paramount chief.

Head of the Burebasaga confederacy and Rewa high chief Ro Teimumu Kepa said Bainimarama was taking extreme measures “to ensure that potential candidates for these positions are endorsed by the members he handpicks”.

“We’ve seen him appoint himself as President, as Prime Minister and as co-chair of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji and now he’s seen it fit to head the GCC.

“His self-appointment will see him manipulating and controlling the country. It will bring about dictatorship,” she said.

“He will put there people of his own choosing so he will be able to manipulate them.”

Ro Teimumu, a former Education minister, was a member of the ousted GCC.

Bainimarama will chair a new-look Great Council of Chiefs, following a gazette issued under his name last week.

He is expected to appoint a 52-member council. Those who have contested the general elections or have held public offices including the Senate and House of Representatives are not eligible.

The GCC, the highest Fijian institution in the land, is expected to convene later this year after recommendations by the taskforce is regularised by the interim Cabinet.

Chief questions mandate

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

CAKAUDROVE paramount chief Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu has questioned his subject Ratu Filimoni Ralogaivau over his mandate to speak on behalf of the province as a member of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji. Ratu Naiqama yesterday questioned Ratu Filimoni's mandate to join the council.

He said the province of Cakaudrove had indicated earlier it would join the council on the proviso that elected members of the ousted Laisenia Qarase-led Government were included. "Who are you? Who gave you the mandate? Speak for yourself and not the province," Ratu Naiqama said yesterday, in comments directed at Ratu Filimoni. He said if the Bua Provincial Council gave Ratu Filipe the mandate to join the council then the latter's allowance from council meetings should go as proceeds towards the provincial council. Ratu Filimoni is chairman of the Bua Provincial Council.

He could not be reached for comment last night.

We must be heard: Naiqama

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

CHIEFS and politics go hand in hand in Fiji's economic development, says Cakaudrove paramount chief Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.

Ratu Naiqama said the suggestion that future members of the Great Council of Chiefs must have no political affiliation was impractical.

"My great great grandfather, my great grandfather were part of the Legislative Council, including my father," he said.

"The late Governor-General/President Ratu Sir Penaia Ganilau and Ratu Mara were no exception.

"I am only one of them. There is the Roko Tui Dreketi, the Nakalevu of Nadroga. We were born into it. They can't take it away.

"That's part of our role to be included in politics. We were born to lead, as chiefs of this country."

Ratu Naiqama is a member of the GCC by virtue of his birth.

He was a Cabinet minister in the ousted SDL Government.

He also served time in jail for his involvement in the mutiny at the Sukanaivalu Barracks in Vaturekuka, Labasa in 2000.

Ratu Naiqama said the military itself was political. He said this was demonstrated through the recruitment of former military officer Manasa Vaniqi as permanent secretary for Provincial Development.

"The military is political," he said.

"(Mr) Vaniqi lost the last election and went back to the army before he recently became permanent secretary.

"So how can they say that chiefs cannot play a political role. This call for an apolitical stand holds no water."

Mr Vaniqi said he was a reservist of the RFMF but served in the civil service for the past 30 years.

"I am a commissioned officer, a major," he pointed out.

"My being part of the army and contesting the elections is like Ratu Penaia, Ratu George.

"Like any civil servant, I had to quit when I contested the last election as an independent for Cakaudrove West. I also contested the 2001 elections for SDL," he said.

Interim Defence Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau said there was nothing to stop any government from implementing changes to reflect modern times.

He said issues raised by Ratu Naiqama were about the past and it did not mean that changes could not be effected.

During Ratu Epeli's term as interim Fijian Affairs Minister, the GCC was suspended and a review of the institution ordered.

"We change as we go along to suit the situation," Ratu Epeli said.

"We can't compare what we're going through to what they went through so many years ago."

Lands chairman unaware of probe

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

THE Native Lands and Fisheries Commission is unaware of reports that an independent team auditing Fijian institutions would be moving to the commission soon to review customary fishing grounds boundaries.

NLC chairman Ratu Viliame Tagivetaua said he was yet to be briefed by the Minister for Indigenous Affairs, his permanent secretary or the interim Government. He said he was not aware of reports customary fishing grounds or qoliqoli boundaries for all three confederacies Kubuna, Tovata and Burebasaga were about to be changed.

Ratu Viliame said the qoliqoli boundaries could not be changed.

No comments:

Post a Comment