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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 5, 2000 - Fiji’s Daily Post/PINA Nius Online)---Protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience are being planned against the government following the revival of the Taukei Movement at Lautoka yesterday.

High on the movement’s plan is the petitioning of the Great Council of Chiefs when it meets at the end of the month.

A meeting to revive the Taukei Movement -- which played a key role in protests before the 1987 coups -- at Lautoka yesterday collected more than 100 signatures on a draft petition for the chiefs.

The petition outlines grievances, which include opposition to the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act and the proposed Land Use Commission.

The meeting heard calls for the ousting of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry’s government.

Acting president of the revived Taukei Movement, Apisai Tora, said, while trying to calm tempers and emotions, that it must be remembered that the Chaudhry government is legal and democratically elected.

However, there are legal ways to bring the government down, he said.

Most speakers at yesterday’s meeting voiced their protest at the manner in which Mr. Chaudhry is running government.

"The sheer arrogance of the man, with his confrontational attitude, someone should remind the man he is no longer running a union," Mr. Tora told the meeting. "The racial divide is getting wider and wider. "It has become obvious that he has no regard whatsoever for the Great Council of Chiefs."

The Great Council of Chiefs is the pinnacle of Fijian society and with his new Bill on social justice, the council wil1 probably be regarded as irrelevant, he said.

Mr. Tora said the movement wanted also to protest against an amendment to the Constitution to transfer the authority from the Native Land Trust Board in advising the President on land issues to the Cabinet.

"All these things combined only tells us one thing, that the man (Chaudhry) wants to have total dictatorial power in this land," he said.

But Mr. Tora said the Taukei Movement will do all it can to stop the proposed changes. A committee set up at Lautoka yesterday will hold meetings with sub-committees already formed on ‘vanua’ (land) around the West.

The first of the meetings is being held in Sabeto today.

Yesterday’s meeting was attended by a wide representative of landowners, civil servants, dockworkers, entrepreneurs and other statutory organization workers.

Meanwhile, these moves to revive the Taukei Movement by former Party of National Unity official Mr. Tora have been described as sour grapes.

Lautoka MP and Minister for Labour, Industrial Relations and Immigration Ratu Tevita Momoedonu said that he represents Mr. Tora and his people in Parliament. "Whatever he does, he should consult me first," he said.

Ratu Tevita said there will be no reviving of the Taukei Movement as the main people who backed the Taukei Movement in Suva "have confidence in the Government of the day, full stop."

"What Apisai Tora is trying to do in Lautoka is just a futile exercise and he is wasting his time," he said.

"He should go back to the village to farm the land instead of wasting his time trying to instigate something which is unbecoming to a civilized society," he said.

Ratu Tevita said Mr. Tora should be a traditional leader playing his role as leader of the ‘yavusa’ (largest kinship and social division of Fijian society) to see that people use the land instead.

"I wasted my time joining his All National Congress Party and I was dumped and he did not do anything for me."

"Now that I have crossed the floor to Labour, he felt very hurt by the whole thing," he said.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.



By Charles Chambers

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 5, 2000 - Fiji Times)---"He is telling the Great Council of Chiefs "you go and get stuffed. I don’t care about you." Remember when he was in opposition he said the GCC was not an elected body. The GCC is the pinnacle of Fijian society and he is telling them to go and rub their faces in the dirt. - Apisai Tora

The Taukei Movement yesterday vowed to topple the government before the year ended.

It plans to mount demonstrations and a campaign of civil disobedience.

Under the leadership of Apisai Tora, who was elected interim president in a meeting at Lautoka yesterday, the organization said Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry must be removed from office.

Mr. Tora said Mr. Chaudhry was arrogant in his refusal to agree with the Great Council of Chiefs resolution for the scrapping of ALTA.

"He is telling the Great Council of Chiefs, "You go and get stuffed. I don’t care about you.

"Remember when he was in opposition? He said the GCC was not an elected body.

"The GCC is the pinnacle of Fijian society and he is telling them to go and rub their faces in the dirt," he said.

On the Social Justice Bill before Parliament, Mr. Tora said the council would be deemed irrelevant.

"Even the Constitution Amendment Bill No. 1 (2000) takes away the right of the GCC to advise the President on matters."

However, Mr. Tora reminded people at the meeting that the Government was elected legally and constitutionally and to remove them this would have to be done in the same manner.

"On the legal ways to remove them, we will have to work that out," he said.

A demonstration march may be organized as early as within the next 10 days.

A petition, which was being circulated around the West for signatures, would be delivered to the "Bose Levu Vakaturaga" (Great Council of Chiefs) meeting later this month. The petition calls for:

Meetings will be organized throughout the Western Division to build momentum for the Taukei Movement. "This is the real Taukei Movement," Mr. Tora said.

"Somebody should remind Chaudhry (Prime Minister) that he is running a government and not a union.

"We are going to do a lot of coordination work with like-minded people in the Ba Province and other places."

Mr. Tora said the movement would look for the backing of chiefs in the West as a start.

Citing interference in native land through the intended Land Use Commission, Mr. Tora said: "No one wants to be told what to plant on his land.

"That is my land; what I plant in it is my own bloody business."

Mr. Tora also highlighted issues such as the different packages being offered to outgoing tenants and landowners who want to farm the land.

"Not only the Fijians, even the Indian people are angry with this man (Mr. Chaudhry), his sheer arrogance and confrontational attitude," Mr. Tora said.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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