19 Feb 2008

GCC taskforce surprised at Fiji interim PM's move

4:15 pm on 19 February 2008

The taskforce that made recommendations over the future make-up of Fiji's Great Council of chiefs is surprised the interim Prime Minister is to be the new chairman.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama took over the portfolio of Fijian Affairs, renamed named it Indigenous Affairs and included it within the Prime Minister's portfolio, in a Cabinet reshuffle at Christmas.

The interim government says making the Minister of Indigenous Affairs the chair of the GCC is just returning to practices of 20 years ago.

But the Secretary of the GCC Taskforce, Ratu Josateki Nawalowalo, says this was not what had been suggested in their report:

"The whole concept from our side was to ensure, as we move forward, that the great council of chiefs team to be apolitical and so be independent of all political influences and so we were expecting people to sacrifice for a better GCC into the future."

The new regulation says while the chairman is in the administration, members of the body of the Council cannot have political affiliations.

Ratu Josateki says they have not had talks with the interim administration over the new GCC regulations.

But he says there must be reasons why the interim Prime Minister is taking the chair.