4 Jun 2003

Fiji vice president's continued role questioned

9:07 am on 4 June 2003

The chairman of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, believes the vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, should step aside after being charged with serious coup-related offences.

The Fiji Times reports that Ratu Epeli has expressed this view in a meeting with the president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

Ratu Epeli is quoted as saying the Great Council is the appointing body for the president and the vice president. and it was his duty to advise the president on the procedure to be followed in Ratu Jope's case.

He says he also advised the government and the attorney general on Ratu Jope's position but their view was that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

Ratu Epeli says a person implicated in a scam in the civil service is suspended but it seems there is a difference for high office holders.

Ratu Jope is a chief from George Speight's home province of Tailevu in the Kubuna Confederacy.

He is due to appear in court next week on one count of taking an illegal oath to commit a capital offence and one count of engaging in a seditious enterprise.