FIJI’S GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS TO DECIDE ON POLITICAL PARTY

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FIJI’S GREAT COUNCIL OF CHIEFS TO DECIDE ON POLITICAL PARTY

SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 30, 2001 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---The Great Council of Chiefs (GCC) will resume its meeting today to decide on the direction it is going to take in the August General Elections.

It is understood that with the demise of the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei party (SVT), a new political order is expected to emerge at today's meeting.

Reportedly, the majority of the provinces making up the country's highest chiefly institution, the Great Council of Chiefs, want it to remain an independent body, thus calling the GCC to sever its ties with SVT.

Blessed by the GCC, SVT was formed following the military coups of 1987, with special instructions to work towards strengthening unity within the Fijian community and safeguarding indigenous rights and aspirations.

The members agree that the GCC's "independence" would help maintain its credibility.

Meanwhile, caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase is also expected to unveil his political future at the meeting today. While Prime Minister Qarase last night remained tight-lipped, when asked about the emergence of a new political order, it is understood that he will lead the new Fijian political revival.

Mr. Qarase had earlier said that he was looking forward to contesting the August polls through a united Fijian political party. He had called on all major Fijian parties to unite and fight the election under a united political body. Mr. Qarase had also warned that if Fijian political parties would fail to do that, then he would form a new political party to contest the elections.

Interviews with some GCC members in the past few days, hinted that Mr. Qarase is a likely credible political-contender, to lead the new political order that may emerge from the GCC meeting. "But this will only happen if the much talked about Fijian unity is not achieved," one of the GCC members said. However, GCC chairman Ratu Epeli Ganilau had earlier said that many chiefs wanted to see the indigenous population stand together in the elections.

Ratu Epeli earlier had stressed that Fijian unity is the recipe for stability, peace and prosperity in the country. He had said that apart from the unity issue, national reconciliation was the other important goal that the GCC wished to advocate.

Ratu Epeli had emphasized that the GCC's responsibility also relates to the non-indigenous people, living here. "GCC cares (for) and respects the Indo-Fijians as much as it does for the Fijians," he said.

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

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