SUVA, Fiji (July 20) - The non-renewal of Ratu Epeli Ganilau’s contract as a member of the Great Council of Chiefs is indeed a sad development.

His exclusion from the GCC means that he loses his position as chairman.

During his term, Ratu Epeli displayed superb leadership qualities that are very rare to find and his absence will be a big loss to the GCC.

The former army commander steered GCC towards a new direction when he took up office.

Firstly, he never allowed any political interference to influence the institution in its decision-making mechanisms.

Then he took the institution down to the grassroots to work with the people in tackling daily problems like drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and unemployment.

The move made the GCC more relevant to people’s lives.

However, like any great leader in the world, Ratu Epeli has to pay the price for his moderate stand and, moreover, his strong outbursts against the Government to do away with one-sided policies that benefit the Fijian people.

This made Ratu Epeli more popular among the different ethnic groups in the country and he got heaps of praise from the international community.

His attack on the State to clamp down on corruption and his advice to Vice President Ratu Jope Seniloli to resign after he was charged with taking an illegal oath in George Speight’s rebel government saw him come under heavy criticism in Parliament.

This did not deter him as he stood firm in his belief for truth, equality and justice.

But it did not help in his cause as he was seen as a threat by the Government and Fijian political parties.

His decision to claim the title of Tui Cakau from Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu also played a major part in his ousting.

This became evident when Prime Minister and Minister for Fijian Affairs Laisenia Qarase appointed Ratu Naiqama’s cousin, Ratu Ratavo, to replace him.

But as a true leader, Ratu Epeli in an interview with the FijiSUN last week, said he was ready to go if the GCC decides to get a new chairman.

He said that he had done his job diligently and had no regrets whatsoever.

July 20, 2004


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