Fiji Academic: Indigenous Fijians Should Have Say On Council

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

Great Council of Chiefs dissolved four years ago

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 2, 2016) – An academic who's been banned from Fiji says the Great Council of Chiefs may no longer be relevant, but the way it was dissolved leaves a sense of unfinished business.

The chiefly body was abolished by Frank Bainimarama's military regime four years ago.

Last week, Fiji's parliament voted out a petition seeking to reinstate the council, but the opposition says it could be re-established without government support.

The former Fiji-based academic Brij Lal said there was a time when indigenous Fijians were in the minority and concerned their interests might be threatened.

Now iTaukei account for about 60 percent of the population.

But Brij Lal said indigenous Fijians should have had the opportunity to decide what happened to the GCC.

"It is the brut force of numbers that the government has in parliament and before the 2014 elections it was rule by decree so there was no discussions with the principle stakeholders in this situation, that is ordinary Fijians. That is the problem that lies at the heart of this issue."


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