17 Feb 2004

Fiji chief speaks out against MPs becoming members of indigenous institutions

11:44 am on 17 February 2004

The chairman of Fiji's influential Great Council of Chiefs says he expects the government will back down on its proposal to amend parts of the constitution concerning indigenous institutions.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau says he does not want to see MPs becoming members of the GCC, the Native Lands Trust Board or the Fijian Affairs board, as is being proposed.

Ratu Epeli says the constitution prevents MPs from being members of indigenous institutions because in the 1970s and 80s, when they were allowed to belong, they politicised the organisations.

"I think it's been a good thing that we have had this provision in the constitution because it allows a wider representation of people to share the load, so to speak, whereby the politicians would look after politics."

Ratu Epeli says he won't formally protest to the government but he's sure that MPs are aware of his stance.

The proposed changes would require the support of two thirds of both houses of parliament and the support of three quarters of all the senators appointed by the Great Council of Chiefs.