FIJI CHIEFS CRITICAL OF CIVIL LAW SUIT AGAINST RATU MARA AND RATU JOSEFA

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 31, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Several members of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs have criticized the deposed government's civil law suit against former president Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and current president Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

The lawsuit relates to the events following Fiji's nationalist coup on May 19.

Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports that the grievances were raised at a meeting this week in Suva.

"The chiefs who spoke against the lawsuit believe the hostages were released safely under the Muanikau Accord. Therefore, there was no need for the lawsuit.

"Also raised at the meeting was the issue of immunity for coup leader George Speight and his accomplices. It has been reported that the concerned chiefs want a careful study of the Muanikau Accord and the immunity decree.

"Meeting sources also disclosed that a high chief was concerned about army officers allegedly assaulting some of his people, including his relatives. He also voiced his concerns on the weakening of the chiefly system, especially in the country's three confederacies.

"Interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase is expected to submit the draft terms of reference for the formation of a new constitution during today's Council meeting.

Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."

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

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