7 Jan 2008

Opposition in Fiji to suggestions of non-indigenous president

11:45 am on 7 January 2008

Political and traditional leaders in Fiji have rejected a proposal to have a non-indigenous President.

The ousted Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, said he supported the current constitutional requirement that the Great Council of Chiefs choose the President.

The current President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo was chosen by the council when his predecessor, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, was asked to step down by the military in the aftermath of the 2000 civilian takeover.

Mr Qarase said any change to the selection procedure would require wide consultation because it would involve constitutional amendments.

The Fiji Times quotes the Citizens Constitutional Forum director, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, as saying the time was right for Fiji to have a non-Fijian president.

However, Rewa chief, Ro Filipe Tuisawau said the position of President was reserved for an indigenous Fijian.

He said the candidates was selected by the Great Council of Chiefs as an acknowledgement of the care the chiefs of Fiji had rendered to all races in Fiji since the time of indenture and independence.