FIJI MILITARY WARNS AGAINST ‘QOLIQOLI BILL’

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Oct. 5) - The Fiji military has warned Fijian institutions against proposed legislation on traditional fishing rights saying it would only bring instability to the country.

In the military's submission to the Parliament select committee on the contentious Qoliqoli Bill, Captain Seremaia Tuiteci told the Ministry of Fijian Affairs and the Native Land Trust Board to let things be.

Tuiteci said the Bill was influenced by a lot of institutions who have no idea of the huge impact it would have on the economy if passed.

He claimed that the majority of the 'qoliqoli' (traditional fishing grounds) owners were not properly consulted on the Bill and there was a need to hear their views on the matter.

He also said that indigenous Fijians are sufficiently educated to handle their own affairs.

He further said that the military would only support the Bill if everyone in the country were informed about its contents.

"We don't want to see any lawlessness in the country unless the government makes the right stand and justifies the Bill," Tuiteci said. "I suggest that the Government make a wider consultation on the Bill because not everybody knows about it. Most Fijians in the military are not familiar with the Bill and I sympathize with them because these are the very own ‘qoliqoli’ owners who would be affected directly and indirectly."

He told the committee that the Tourism Industry would be affected immensely if the Bill was enacted.

October 6, 2006

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