NEW FIJI PRESIDENT HAILS RATU MARA'S CONTRIBUTION

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (July 20, 2000 - Fiji's Daily Post/PINA Nius Online)---The devotion to duty of former President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and his statesmanship will never be equaled. This was the message to the nation by the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, when paying tribute to his predecessor.

He said that through Ratu Sir Kamisese's distinguished and illustrious career, Fiji was never faced with problems of unity, inclusiveness, and order and stability as we're facing today. "Never was our country held in such high esteem and respect in the international community as our country enjoyed during his leadership," the President said.

He said that Ratu Sir Kamisese was truly an outstanding statesman.

The Great Council of Chiefs also paid tribute to Ratu Sir Kamisese at its meeting on July 14 at the Queen Elizabeth Barracks. In a statement, the chiefs said that Ratu Sir Kamisese would be irreplaceable and Fiji is where it is today because of his faithful and dedicated work.

A Great Council of Chiefs committee is organizing a grand farewell for the distinguished leader.

Ratu Sir Kamisese stepped aside as President when he was traditionally requested by the military to do so on May 29. The 1997 Constitution was abrogated soon after and martial law was put in place.

Ratu Sir Kamisese, who was Fiji's Prime Minister for 22 years, was highly respected all over the world and his contribution towards international peace is still highly appreciated by world leaders. The Lau high chief was the most significant figure in Pacific history during the latter half of the twentieth century.

He both identified and gave name and substance to "the Pacific Way" concept. He also provided much of the leadership which gave Pacific Islanders the ability to control the direction their development took.

The Pacific Islands have experienced enormous change since Ratu Sir Kamisese began his public career, and it is unlikely that any island leader will ever again enjoy a role of comparable influence in the region.

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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