FIJI'S NATIONAL UNITY PARTY CLAIMS RABUKA AIMING FOR PRESIDENCY

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 14, 1999 - Radio Australia)---Criticism continues over the election earlier this month of former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka as Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Party of National Unity trade unionist Apisai Tora has claimed that Mr. Rabuka knew he would be appointed to the position and that he had stacked the Great Council while he was Prime Minister, with the long-term aim of becoming the country's president.

Mr. Tora says he believes Mr. Rabuka is planning to take over from the current president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, even though five years remain in the president's term.

Mr. Rabuka "will have to wait," Mr. Tora said, "unless something happens in the meantime, something like bringing up a vote of no confidence or some other shenanigans."

RABUKA REFUTES CLAIMS HE WANTS TO BE FIJI PRESIDENT

SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 14, 1999 - Radio Australia)---Fiji's former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has denied claims that he wants the post of Fiji's head of state.

Mr. Rabuka was responding to claims by the Party of National Unity that his acceptance of the position of Chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs showed he wanted to become Fiji's next president.

The post is currently held by high-ranking chief and Fiji's first post-independence Prime Minister, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

"I was head of state of the country in 1987 and I do not envy the position now held by the President because it entails a lot of responsibility, and one that must only be given to someone that the Great Council of Chiefs believe will command the respect of the majority of the people, and will also bring to the office the respect it deserves from all communities in our country," said Rabuka.

"I believe that I have contributed so far to the development of our country and I have no further ambition."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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