26 Apr 2005

Fiji PM told to obey law

6:53 pm on 26 April 2005

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has been told to follow High Court orders issued regarding a long standing dispute over the key chiefly title of Tui Nadi.

Radio Fiji reports that Suva lawyer Sireli Fa has written to Mr Qarase, in his capacity as the minister for Fijian affairs, giving him seven days to respond to issues he has raised about the title.

The Tui Nadi title, which carries with it considerable income from land rents for hotel developments and cane farms, has been in dispute since the early 1990s.

Mr Qarase has appointed a commission of inquiry to resolve the dispute early next month.

But Mr Fa says the High Court had ordered in the year 2000 that each party to the dispute must nominate their representative to sit on the inquiry and the Native Lands Commission would draw up the terms of reference.

As well, the High Court had ordered the current holder of the disputed title to return more than 420-thousand US dollars unlawfully paid to him from 1994 to 2000.

Mr Fa says once the seven-day ultimatum to the prime minister is over, the landowning unit claiming the title will decide on its next course of action.