Saturday, April 14, 2007

Commander suspends chiefs

Meetings of the Great Council of Chiefs have been suspended and Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has said that his Government does not recognise it. Cdre Bainimarama yesterday expressed his disappointment after the GCC rejected President Ratu Josefa Iloilo's Vice Presidential nominee, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. "They now constitute a security threat in our efforts to move the country forward. In turn we will also state that we do not recognise the GCC and as of now suspend all meetings of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga," he said. "All Government resources within the GCC secretariat will now be directed to other government departments. The GCC will only be convened if and when the Interim Government sees it as appropriate." Cdre Bainimarama said he was surprised that the Kubuna and Burebasaga representatives had "ganged up to oppose the President's nomination, especially since the President is a paramount chief of the Burebasaga confederacy. "It is also obvious to me that elements of Fijian society that were ousted by the military from parliament, the civil service, government corporations, statutory authorities and bodies as a result of the November clean up have sought refuge in the GCC in order to continue their opposition to the interim administration.
"There are strong indications that the council has now become a forum for furthering certain political agendas which can be detrimental to the Interim Government's efforts to move the country forward." He said the GCC had a specific constitutional role in the appointments to the high offices of the President and Vice President. "Through its decision, the GCC has betrayed this trust and its good standing in our nation. It has not acted in a fair neutral and impartial manner, qualities which the people of Fiji have come to expect from the GCC. "Let me state that some influences within the highest traditional decision making body, the GCC, are attempting to negatively influence the good and solid progress which the Interim Government is committed to achieve. "Let me emphasise that the Interim Government accords this chiefly institution the greatest respect. However we would like greater reciprocity from all segments of the GCC. "It is very clear that the reasons for the GCC not endorsing the President's nomination is because they do not recognise the Interim Government."
In a television interview Vunivalu of Rewa Ro Epeli Mataitini admitted that the chiefs were not happy with the decision. However he said that in its meeting last December the GCC had reached a resolution that it would not support an illegal Government and that Ratu Epeli Nailatikau was a part of it. She said the chiefs could not deviate from the resolution that had been reached. Chairman of the Bua Provincial Council Ratu Filimoni Ralogaivau said it would be a sign of weakness if the GCC supported the nomination because it had reached the resolution last year that it did not recognise the Interim Government. He said people looked to members of the GCC with respect when they had reached that decision last year.

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