8 Jun 2007

Fiji landowners want construction of new US embassy stopped

3:21 pm on 8 June 2007

Indigenous landowners in the Fiji capital are demanding that the United States stop the construction of its new embassy in the suburb of Tamavua.

The Daily Post reports that the landowners have warned that they would raise the issue of the ownership of the land in court.

Their spokesman, Kaminieli Tunisau, says the United States should think twice about their plan because the land was given to the government for public purposes.

He says when they take the matter court it will be under legislation requiring that all land given to the state for public purposes but not used by the government should be returned to the landowners.

But Mr Tunisau says they are willing to discuss the issue with US embassy officials.

Large quantities of construction equipment has been arriving on the site in the last few weeks with the groundbreaking ceremony due to take place tomorrow.

The deposed SDL government passed a law last year exempting the US government from paying Value Added Tax amounting to 2.75 million US dollars from the 22-million US dollar building.