Friday, February 22, 2008

Lawyer questions Bainimarama’s authority

22 FEB 2008
Suva lawyer Savenaca Komaisavai says Indigenous Affairs Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is a commoner and has no authority to appoint himself to chair the Great Council of Chiefs.

He maintained Bainimarama’s appointment was “wrong and illegal”.

“For the position of GCC chairman, nomination comes through the office of the President. I don’t see any authority for Frank nominating himself,” Komaisavai said.

He questioned Bainimarama’s motive behind these moves.

“What has the Fijian nation and its people done to be treated this way in such a vicious manner when all their institutions they hold here have been attacked like this.”

Komaisavai and Lautoka lawyer Kitione Vuataki are representing a group of chiefs that were suspended from the GCC following the December, 2006 coup.

They will also be filing for a judicial review next week against Bainimarama’s “illegal” appointment.

“Who is he trying to hoodwink here? We have laws in this country to follow. You don’t just go and nominate yourself, especially a commoner like him,” Komaisavai told reporters at the Suva court.

“What standing does he have to go and elevate himself? He is asking for trouble.

“As a Fijian, that’s wrong and it is a very stupid decision. A politician of high standing, a Prime Minister would not stoop that low to treat Fijians that way. I would have hoped he would have done something wiser than that, stay out of it.

“Since he’s gone down that road, I’m coming too for him and we will meet somewhere at the junction down that road. And let me tell Frank, there’s only one guy standing after that, that’ll be me.”

Komaisavai said the independence and the integrity of Fiji’s judiciary was intact, “which is why we have come for help, for relief on behalf of the Fijian people to the High Court”.

He said the people of Fiji deserved better because the President’s office was not only for Fijians but “for our Indian brothers and sisters as well”.

“You can’t take that away. You must not. It must never happen,” he said.

Bainimarama returned from India today. He will hold a press conference on Sunday where he is expected to react strongly to criticisms leveled against him following the gazetting of a new regulation for a yet to be appointed new-look GCC.

According to the new law, the paramount chiefs of Fiji’s three traditional Fijian political divisions will not qualify to join the GCC.

Only traditionally installed chiefs can be part of the GCC and those who have not delved in politics in the last seven years.

In 2006, Bainimarama seriously challenged the highly revered institution when he suggested that its members then, “go drink brew under a mango tree”.

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