11 Nov 2003

Fiji Great Council of Chiefs meets to discuss national and indigenous concerns

12:03 pm on 11 November 2003

Fiji's highest traditional body, the Great Council of Chiefs, begins a four day meeting today to discuss issues of pressing concern in the indigenous community and nationally.

The meeting will take place at President Iloilo's home village of Viseisei near Lautoka where a special 200 thousand US dollar meeting hall has been built with half the cost paid for by the government.

Among other things, the meeting will discuss a move by some chiefs who want the Great Council to be given legislative powers.

At present, apart for having the power to appoint the president and vice-president, the Great Council is mainly an advisory body.

Also on the agenda are the high incidence of drug abuse among indigenous Fijians, the appointment of a senator to replace one who has died and the deployment of Fijian troops for security duties in Iraq by a British company.

On Friday, representatives of the Sugar Cane Growers Council, and the Fiji Girmit Council will make presentations to the Great Council of Chiefs in a move to build bridges between the indigenous Fijian and ethnic Indian communities.