Saturday, April 14, 2007

State suspends GCC meetings - Friday, April 13, 2007

THE interim Government has suspended all meetings of the Great Council of Chiefs, saying it does not recognise it.

In reaction to the council's rejection on Wednesday of the nomination by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo of a Vice President, interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama said all government resources within the council secretariat would now be re-directed to other government departments.

"The GCC will only be convened if, and when, the interim government sees it appropriate," he said

On Wednesday, the council rejected President Ratu Josefa Iloilo's nomination of interim Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau as Vice President to replace Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi who had resigned.

Commodore Bainimarama said it was very clear that the reasons the council did not endorse Ratu Josefa's nomination were because the members did not recognise the interim government.

Members of the Kubuna and Burebasaga confederacies rejected the nomination after Ratu Josefa made the announcement at the Tradewinds Convention Centre.

Members of the Tovata confederacy endorsed Ratu Epeli's name.

Commodore Bainimarama said they wanted greater reciprocity from all segments of the council and have a joint responsibility to the people of this country and their future generations of offering them a Fiji that was not tolerant of corruption, malpractice and basically poor governance.

"Some influences within our highest traditional decision-making body, the Bose Levu Vakaturaga, are attempting to negatively influence the good and solid progress which the interim Government is committed to achieve," he said.

"The practice of good governance and the promotion of an accountable and corrupt free society are vital to our progress as a nation."

He said there were strong indications that the council had now become a forum for furthering certain political agendas, which could be detrimental to the interim Government's efforts to move the country forward.

Earlier yesterday, he said he was totally bewildered as to why the chiefs rejected the nomination by Ratu Josefa.

He said the rejection of Ratu Epeli's name was based on the premise that Ratu Epeli was part of an illegal regime and thus should not be endorsed for that position.

"It is premature and irrational to be bringing in reasoning such as this," he said.

"It is the judicial and the court process which will determine the legality or otherwise the interim government."

He said Ratu Epeli only decided to become part of the interim government when he was approached by Ratu Josefa to lend a helping hand in moving the country forward.

"I expected the chiefs to be visionary and considered the bigger picture," he said.

"We need to rise above our narrow personal agenda and make decisions for the greater good of the country."

He said Ratu Epeli was a man of remarkable qualities, experience and vision, having held positions of commander RFMF, a diplomat, Speaker of the House of Representatives and more recently as interim Foreign Minister.

Attempts to get council chairman Ratu Ovini Bokini to comment on the decision by the interim government were unsuccessful last night.

Burebasaga paramount chief Ro Teimumu Kepa said leaders had to be rational about their decisions. "As leaders we have to be rational about our decisions because whatever decision we make will have an impact on the people," she said.

She said by suspending the council, the interim administration was denying the rights of the Fijians from the 14 provinces since they were the voice of the ordinary people.

She said the decision of the council was based on the framework and legality of the 1997 Constitution.

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