FIJI CHIEFS' STAND ANGERS MAHOGANY LANDOWNERS

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By Ruci Mafi

SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 22, 2002 – Fiji Times/Abridged)---Landowners are angered that the Great Council of Chiefs has taken the State's position on mahogany forests seriously.

Mahogany Landowners Association general secretary Peceli Tuisawau said the comments by GCC chairman Ratu Epeli Ganilau that the State is the outright owner of the land was "regretful.''

"The Government does not own the land and those comments were incorrect,'' he said.

Mr. Tuisawau said a full statement would be prepared on Friday.

The association has also called for a special annual general meeting at the end of this month to discuss the next course of action.

Ratu Epeli said the State could throw out the GCC report because it is only an advisory document.

He said the landowners should accept the fact that the forests belonged to the government and that the State had paid to plant, nurture and maintain the mahogany forests.

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

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