22 Dec 2006

New tensions in Fiji after military refuses to recognise Great Council of Chiefs

9:13 am on 22 December 2006

A confrontation is looming between Fiji's military which seized power this month and the Great Council of Chiefs which is trying to discuss a resolution to the crisis.

The Fiji Sun reports that the military issued a statement last night saying it no longer recognizes the Great Council of Chiefs.

The newspaper says this followed an open challenge to military commander, Commodore Bainimarama, when the Chiefs announced that they still recognized Laisenia Qarase, as the lawful prime minister.

The Chiefs also recognized Ratu Josefa Iloilo as the president and Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as the vice president, even though both men were deposed in the December 5th coup.

The army repeated that it would not meet the Great Council which had requested that Commodore Bainimarama attend the final day of their meeting today in his capacity as the military commander, not as the president who held executive authority since the coup.

The ousted general secretary of the Council, Adi Litia Qionibaravi, who was sacked by the military last week, said a draft resolution was prepared last night.

She says in that the Chiefs agreed in principle on resolutions which are within the legal and constitutional framework of the country.

Adi Litia said the resolutions will begin with those in positions of authority such as the president, the vice president, the prime minister and the military commander.

She said if the military does not recognize the resolutions, the Great Council will see how long they can continue to run the country.

Meanwhile, the leader of the National Alliance Party and former military commander, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, says the stand taken by the Great Council is unrealistic because the military is in control and has executive power.

Ratu Epeli says the GCC needs to face reality.

In another development, members of the parliament deposed in the coup were given their severance pay yesterday and told they could no longer visit the precincts of the complex.