Fiji Council Of Chiefs Dissolved After Declaring Coup Illegal: Kepa

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Opposition leader says GCC stood up for democracy and paid the price

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, April 29, 2016) – Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa yesterday told Parliament that the last decision made by the Great Council of Chiefs which deemed the 2006 coup illegal was probably why Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama dissolved them.

Responding to a ministerial statement by Mr Bainimarama on the GCC yesterday, Ro Teimumu revealed that on December 7, 2006, the chiefs in the country met at the Vodafone Arena, and after a presentation they ruled "the coup illegal and called upon soldiers to leave the barracks and return home to your people".

She said after the chiefs decision, the response was "these chiefs are good for nothing" and that "they best go under a mango tree and drink home-brew".

Ro Teimumu said "This was the price the GCC had to pay, for standing up for democracy".

Mr Bainimarama in his statement, which received frivolous interjections from the Opposition, told Parliament that the GCC had no relevance to the present needs of Fijian people or their future hopes and aspirations.

"The GCC had become so politicised, so divisive, that it was a significant obstacle to improving the lives of ordinary Fijians.

"It was certainly a major obstacle to the most important issue of all — our pursuit of a common and equal citizenry to finally build one nation and move forward together."

He said the GCC was an obstacle to the development of the itaukei themselves.

"In 2007, the GCC was suspended and five years later, in 2012, it was removed from the regulations that established it in the first place.

"And I make no apology for it. Because it benefited the country and — as I have indicated — also benefited the chiefly system in Fiji."

He said the GCC was undemocratic. Ro Teimumu said the GCC was part of the democratic framework of Fiji.

"The Prime Minister also has the audacity to call our chiefs and their institutions undemocratic.

"The GCC has never in its history organised or facilitated a coup.

"They have not used their authority to change State policy. They have never used their authority to discourage national unity.

"They have never used their authority to demand that police investigations against them be dropped."

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