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By Maika Bolatiki and Hans Hicks in Tubou

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, May 4) - Traditional warriors of the late Tui Nayau, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, were stopped from performing their customary duty at his state funeral yesterday when the military took over.

The military had sought the assistance of the chiefly mataqali Vunirewa to intervene after the Yadrana clan, which claims to be the traditional warriors of the Tui Nayau, did not want to listen to the instructions laid down.

The mataqali Vunirewa ruled in favor of the military’s request.

However, the village elders of Yadrana clan requested that they perform their duty as the last respects to Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara but their plea was turned down by the mataqali Vunirewa.

The dispute for the position of the traditional warrior of the Tui Nayau had begun among the people of Kabara, Nayau and Yadrana while Ratu Mara’s body was at the Suva Private Hospital.

Yadrana elder Aisea Butukoro said the people of Nayau were called in after they had come in late.

"What they forget is that we have protocol to follow before we take up our position," he said. "Because we came in late does not mean that they have to deprive us of our traditional role as the bati leka or close bodyguard of the Tui Nayau."

He said that if the next Tui Nayau wished to change his traditional warriors then they had no other option but to step down.

Last Saturday there was a free for all brawl among the warriors after which two men from Kabara were hospitalized.

The absence of the traditional warriors, according to Vunirewa clan spokesman Peni Seru, was a welcome relief to all at Tubou, in particular the 3,000-plus people who gathered for the solemn goodbye.

This allowed free movement through the chiefly village of Tubou.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes was challenged by the traditional warriors during the procession through the village green.

The traditional warriors challenged Commissioner Hughes after they had mistaken him for a tourist.

May 5, 2004



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