21 Apr 2004

Chairman of Great Council of Chiefs says ailing Ratu Mara ignored by former colleagues

10:54 am on 21 April 2004

A close relative of the longtime Fiji prime minister and former president, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, has revealed that he was a broken man after he was removed from office during the May 2000 coup.

The revelation has been made by the chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, who is married to Ratu Mara's eldest daughter, Adi Ateca.

Ratu Epeli has told the Fiji Times newspaper that Ratu Mara felt betrayed by the people he had served for four decades.

Ratu Epeli says not even a chief or anyone he knew came to see him during this period apart from military and police officers who went to brief him on the coup situation.

Ratu Epeli also says a group of chiefs had approached Ratu Mara after Mahendra Chaudhry won the 1999 general election about their concerns at having an Indian prime minister.

He says President Mara told the group he was there to fulfill his constitutional obligations and nothing would change that.

Ratu Epeli says right to the last Ratu Mara was conscious of service to the people and just before his death last Sunday, he drove the former president to inspect flood damage in the Nausori and Tailevu areas.