FIJI CHIEFS CALL FOR EARLY ELECTIONS

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Mar 30) –The chiefs of Ba Province are calling on the interim Government to have a general election as early as possible for the sake of economic growth, especially in the tourism industry.

This was a resolution at the two-day meeting in Lautoka, which ended yesterday. Roko Tui Ba Viliame Seuseu said members of the council agreed it would be best for everyone if the general election was held sooner than 2010.

"We want the general elections scheduled for 2010 to be brought forward," he said.

"The sooner we have it, the better."

Mr Seuseu said they were concerned with the political situation since the December takeover because it had severely affected tourism.

He said they had every right to be concerned as several major hotels were located in the province.

Mr Seuseu said these hotels provided employment for most villagers.

"If that is affected, our people will also suffer," he said. He said some employees of these hotels had been on reduced hours since the military takeover. Mr Seuseu said the resolution was reached after a team from the Information Ministry approached them and presented the interim Government's plans leading up to the general election.

Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said the interim administration had put in place a road map that had to be followed.

"The government of the day decides on when the next general election would be held and no one else would," he said.

The chiefs also reassured its support for council chairman Tui Tavua Ratu Ovini Bokini.

Mr Seuseu said their support for Ratu Ovini as a chairman of the council as well as the Great Council of Chiefs was unmoved.

"No amount of allegations or finger pointing would move our support for him," he said.

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