Saturday, April 14, 2007

Sad day for Fiji, says Ro Teimumu, April 13, 2007

REWA paramount chief Ro Teimumu Kepa says it is a sad day for the nation after interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama announced the suspension of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Speaking last night, Ro Teimumu said what the interim administration had done was to deny the people their voices and freedom of speech.

"This what happens when there is absolute power," she said.

"The council was a forum where the voices of the grassroot people was being heard," she said.

She said past governments had maintained a healthy relationship with the GCC but everything had changed now.

On Wednesday, she was concerned about the deteriorating state of comments being raised against chiefs and especially members of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Speaking at the council meeting at the Raffles Tradewinds Convention Centre yesterday, she said the comments by Commodore Bainimarama against council members late last year were uncalled for.

She said Commodore Bainimarama had stated it was best for council members to "have a picnic and drink under a mango tree and take their submissions to Santa Claus".

Ro Teimumu said these comments had raised a lot of questions on where Fijians were heading and if globalisation and developments were causes of these changes.

She said chiefs were meant to lead, be respectful to and look after the well-being of their people all the time.

Ro Teimumu said the chiefs acted as advisers to the Government because they were the ones leading their people and knew what was best for them.

Ro Teimumu said chiefs were born to lead and it was not right to state that they were useless because Fiji was their country.

She said the concept of the formation of the council by the late statesman Ratu Sir Lala Sukuna was for it too advise the Government on matters regarding Fijians.

She said the situation Fiji was in "has caused a lot of confusion and includes the running of the Government". Ro Teimumu questioned what the interim Government thought about the role of the council in this difficult time.

She asked if there was a way that could bring back the cordial relationship enjoyed between the Government and the council.

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