VERY FEW CHIEFS

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PEOPLE’S COALITION GOVERNMENT, FIJI

Suva, Fiji Islands

NEWS RELEASE January 6, 2001

IN FIJI’S GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS, SAYS HIGH CHIEF

The Great Council of Chiefs is without high chiefs, says Navosa High Chief and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Fijian Affairs, Adi Kuini Speed.

In an interview with yesterday’s Fiji Sun, Adi Kuini stated: "… let me point out quite clearly that as the Minister for Fijian Affairs and legally being the member of Parliament, the Fijian people [need] to know and other members of the community need to know that this administration is depending on the GCC that only has a few chiefs."

She stated: "The bulk [of the current membership of the GCC] is political agents of the party that lost control of government in the last elections… If you look at the membership, anyone will realize this. You know us; the landowners are asking ourselves where the real chiefs are? There’s hardly any – Adi Lala is one paramount chief, and the other paramount chief is the Vunivalu of Bau, and it is well known that the Vunivalu seat has not been occupied since the demise of the late Ratu Sir George Cakobau."

Adi Kuini stated: "Three paramount positions are still vacant and the only other paramount chief is Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara who is in the heat of the crisis…"

Referring to the terrorists, she stated: "These people don’t have land of any significance and no tradition and culture and they openly abused a high chief like that – that was a real eye opener for the rest of us. This should make the Fijian people realize once and for all that this GCC … is the most dangerous institution. [It] has lost all its credibility it once had."

She blamed the SVT for the demise of the GCC’s credibility, saying that Rabuka converted the GCC "into something else."

Adi Kuini’s statements were the first major public statements questioning the credibility of the GCC, which many ethnic Fijians have been grumbling about.

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