12 Apr 2007

Interim Fiji government withdraws recognition of GCC

7:37 pm on 12 April 2007

Fiji's interim administration has withdrawn its recognition of the country's Great Council of Chiefs under its current membership and suspended all further meetings.

It has also withdrawn all the resources of the Great Council's secretariat and redirected them to other government ministries and departments.

The decision has been announced by the interim prime minister and military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, and follows the rejection by the Great Council of Chiefs of President Iloilo's nomination to fill the vice presidency.

The GCC turned down the nomination of Ratu Epeli Nailatikau based on advice from a New Zealand lawyer who said the interim administration was illegal and whatever was done within that context was illegal.

Commodore Bainimarama says the Great Council cannot meet under its current membership which has become a refuge of Qarase government supporters ousted in the military takeover.

Commodore Bainimarama says the chiefs have betrayed their trust among the people and become a security threat to the country because they do not recognize the interim government and are hindering its efforts to move the country forward.

He says he has ordered a review of all newly appointed members of the Fijian Trust Fund to ensure those already implicated in corrupt practices are not entrusted with such responsibilities.

Commodore Bainimarama says the military has been concerned for some time about the growing politicisation of the Great Council of Chiefs.

He has ordered a review of the GCC, which will include the membership, the functions and the procedures of the Great Council and will ensure a clean-up of all related indigenous Fijian institutions.