19 Jul 2004

Ratu Epeli to challenge sudden dumping from Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs

7:21 pm on 19 July 2004

The chairman of Fiji's Great Council of chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, is challenging the government's attempt to remove him from his position.

Fiji's information ministry has put out a statement that Ratu Epeli's membership of the Great Council ended last week and therefore his term as chairman has also been revoked.

The prime minister Laisenia Qarase, in his capacity as minister for Fijian affairs, has already named Ratu Rakavo Lalabalavu to succeed Ratu Epeli as a member of the Great Council.

But Radio Fiji reports that Ratu Epeli, who has been strongly critical of government policies in recent months, is disputing that his term has expired.

Ratu Epeli says he has a copy of the government gazette of May 8th 2002 in which his appointment was officially made for a four-year term expiring in 2006.

Ratu Epeli says he is puzzled to be told that his membership of the Great Council has expired and will be seeking legal advice to correct the irregularity that has occurred.

The Great Council of Chiefs will meet on Wednesday.