21 Jul 2004

Fiji minister says Ganilau ouster was "a pay back"

10:25 am on 21 July 2004

Fiji's information minister has admitted that the ousting of Ratu Epeli Ganilau from his position as chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs "was a pay back."

The Daily Post quotes Simione Kaitani as saying that in recent months Ratu Epeli had made statements which were against the government and its policies for indigenous Fijians.

Mr Kaitani says "he is reaping the fruits of what he planted."

The Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase had earlier said Ratu Epeli was being dropped "to allow others an opportunity to serve on the Great Council of Chiefs."

But Ratu Epeli says he can honestly say that he has done his job diligently and at all times ensured that he placed the national interest first and gave due consideration to the needs of all the different communities.

Ratu Epeli says it is precisely because of this type of political interference that the 1997 Constitution is adamant that public office holders (like politicians) should not be members of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Ratu Epeli says he has refused an invitation to meet the prime minister because the decision having been made, there is nothing to discuss.