RABUKA’S TOP JOB WITH FIJI’S GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS MAY BE IN DOUBT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (June 29, 1999 - PACNEWS)----Commonwealth special envoy to the Solomon Islands Sitiveni Rabuka has come under scrutiny in Fiji, despite his success in negotiating a peace deal with the warring factions in the troubled Solomon Islands province of Guadalcanal.

Fiji’s Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) is reportedly not happy with Rabuka’s overseas assignment.

A spokesman for the Chief’s secretariat confirmed they were not officially informed of the Solomon Islands peace mission and have refused to speculate what action the GCC will take when Rabuka returns from the Solomon Islands.

Responding to concerns back home, Rabuka said Fiji’s paramount chiefs hold the key to his job as Chairman of the GCC.

"It’s up to them, particularly those who are members of the Council, whether they still prefer me as their Chairman," Rabuka said.

"There are certain by-laws governing the chief’s august body under the Fijian Affairs Act to call an extra-ordinary meeting on the matter to vote me out of office," Rabuka added.

Rabuka was appointed Chairman of the GCC last month and immediately took the independent secretariat away from the Fijian Affairs Ministry.

Fiji’s Agriculture Minister Poseci Bune called for his resignation in Parliament last week, saying Rabuka had disregarded the chief’s appointment in favor of the Commonwealth Secretary General’s special envoy job.

Rabuka admitted that he did not pause to think about any implications the Solomon Islands assignment could have when he accepted the offer from the Commonwealth Secretariat in London.

The Commonwealth special envoy canceled his scheduled departure today (June 29) to travel into the jungles east of Honiara to sell his peace deal to militant fighters and persuade them to lay down their arms.

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