28 May 2003

Fiji chiefs to discuss their role in May 2000 coup

7:44 am on 28 May 2003

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs begins a two-day meeting in Suva today with the council's own role during the coup likely to be a subject for debate.

The Fiji Times reports that a motion by the chiefs of the Kubuna Confederacy is expected to raise the issue of selective investigations of people involved in the political upheaval.

These include the serious coup-related charges brought against the Bau chief and vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, and the deputy speaker of parliament, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure.

Staff of the Great Council of Chiefs' secretariat have confirmed the issue will be discussed.

The chairman of the council, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, says he would not discuss any matter in relation to the 2000 coup because they are before the courts.

But Bau high chief, Adi Litia Cakobau, says part of a motion from her confederacy would question the integrity of the chiefs' council and the role it played in the coup.

She says chiefs would bring up the issue of selective coup investigations.

Meanwhile, the council has confirmed it will also discuss the rising incidence of drug abuse and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS, among indigenous Fijians as well as heir involvement in violent crime.