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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 26, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---The Assistant Minister for Fijian Affairs, Ratu Isireli Vuibau, and Fijian parliamentarians have been barred from today's Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) meeting.

Invitations to parliamentarians have been given only to Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and Acting Fijian Affairs Minister Ratu Mosese Volavola.

Minister for Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries Poseci Bune will be allowed into the forum to speak on the commercial harvest of mahogany.

He is not expected to remain after talks on the bidding by Timber Resources Management and the Commonwealth Development Corporation.

Mr. Bune promised to inform the chiefs of the real story behind the mahogany deal.

"I'll tell them the whole truth," he said.

The chiefly forum began with a traditional ceremony.

Council official Asesela Sadole confirmed the exclusion of most Fijian parliamentarians.

"This is not the first time indigenous MPs have been dropped from the chiefly meeting," he said.

Mr. Sadole denied that politics is involved in the decision to keep out the Fijian MPs.

Council Chairman Major-General Sitiveni Rabuka could not be contacted for comment.

Several Fijian MPs have accused Mr. Rabuka and the Fijian administration of playing politics.

"Well, if they want to play politics, we too can play politics," Ratu Isireli said.

He said the council lost its monarchical character after Mr. Rabuka's 1987 coup d'etat.

He said the Tui Viti's ties with the British monarchy were stripped on that black day.

"What we have now is a republic, which effectively means the GCC is the people's forum. Accordingly, we must have the people's representatives present in the Bose Levu Vakaturaga. Not the chiefs."

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

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