Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Chiefless Fijians; -Rabuka statement mischievous, says army

www.fijidailypost.com -16-Apr-2007

THE military has condemned comments made by 1987 coup maker Sitiveni Rabuka regarding the status of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Rabuka, who is a life-member of the Council had made suggestions about a “chiefless Fijian society” in his weekly opinion column in the Sunday Times newspaper yesterday.

Republic of Fiji Military Forces’ spokesman, Major Neumi Leweni, in a statement yesterday said Rabuka’s comments were “mischievous”.

Rabuka’s opinions appeared to be a reaction to the decision by Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimiaram to suspend the august body after it failed to reach a consensus on the vacant Vice President position.

He noted that the Interim Government had no longer recognised the “oldest and perhaps last bastion of Fijian dominance in the affairs of the state in Fiji,” and that abolishing the chiefly system would result in the nationalisation of indigenous lands.

Major Leweni said the GCC had constitutional functions such as the selection of President, Vice President and 14 of the 32 members of the Senate.

“The role of the GCC did not interfere with the daily responsibilities of a chief in his province or village as alluded to by Rabuka.”

“His suggestion to militarise the existing Fijian command structure is indeed misleading,” he said.

Major Leweni added that the former Prime Minister would be more helpful by assisting the indigenous population by providing constructive messages rather than trying to confuse them.

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