14 Aug 2007

Fii chiefs to test regime powers in court

6:10 pm on 14 August 2007

The lawyer representing Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs says they plan to question in the High Court challenge, the power of the interim Minister for Fijian Affairs to change the Council's membership.

It had appeared that the suspension of the council and its membership had been restored to weeks ago.

But the Minister for Fijian Affairs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, says the interim administration has not reappointed the previous members, only the body itself.

One of the Council's lawyers, Kitione Vuataki, says the interim government should be consulting widely about whether the current membership should be dumped.

He plans to argue in court that Ratu Epeli does not have the right to make such a decision:

"Because he is not a full minister in the sense he can exercise any power. He is an interim minister who is there to exercise what is necessary under the Law of Necessity and we do not see the necessity in this particular situation."

Lawyer Kitione Vuataki.

Several members of the Great Council of Chiefs, including the suspended chairman, Ratu Ovini Bokini, had brought an earlier challenge.

That had been withdrawn when it was thought their suspension had been lifted