18 Feb 2008

Chiefs in Ba Province in Fiji to discuss government's controversial land de-reservation plan

4:34 pm on 18 February 2008

Chiefs of the Ba province, the largest in Fiji, will meet this week to discuss a proposal by the interim regime to have all native land de-reserved.

The Fijilive website reports the Ba chief and ousted Great Council of Chiefs chairman, Ratu Ovini Bokini, saying an urgent meeting is warranted for such a crucial issue.

The proposed de-reservation of native land, which comprises almost 90 per cent of the Fiji land mass, is one of the major recommendations in a report by an India-based consultant to the Sugar Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, last November.

The interim Government is considering the proposal in order to revamp the ailing sugar industry.

At least two chiefs have spoken strongly against the idea - Nadroga high chief Na Ka Levu Ratu Sakiusa Makutu and Rewa paramount chief Ro Teimumu Kepa.

Ratu Sakiusa earlier told Fijilive this latest development by the interim regime would be a 'catastrophic mistake'.

Ro Teimumu said native land is revered amongst indigenous Fijians and should not be disturbed.