22 Apr 2004

Flags at half mast as Ratu Mara mourning begins

10:32 am on 22 April 2004

The Fiji government has begun a period of official mourning, following the death of longtime prime minister and former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

All flags are flying at half-mast and will continue to do so until the day after he is buried on his home island of Lakeba in the Lau group on May 3.

The government has also declared a national day of mourning on Friday April 30, when all public engagements have been cancelled.

The day has also been declared a public holiday to commemorate Ratu Mara's lifetime of service to the country.

His body will lie in state at Government House in Suva from April 28 to 30 to enable members of the public to pay their last respects.

On Friday 30, Ratu Mara's cortege will be taken to the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Cathedral in Suva for the funeral mass.

The cortege will then go aboard a ship for the journey to Lakeba where Ratu Mara's body will again lie in state at his traditional home.

He will be interred at the chiefly burial ground of Sau Tabu on May 3.