25 Jun 2004

Fiji senator accuses Great Council chair of overstepping his authority

10:38 am on 25 June 2004

The former deputy chair of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs has publicly attacked its chairman, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, for calling on the vice president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, to step down ahead of his High Court trial on serious coup related charges.

Adi Litia Cakobau has told the Fiji Sun that Ratu Epeli has no right to make such a call.

She says the constitution only provides for the Great Council of Chiefs to appoint the president and the vice president, but does not say anything about offering advice to the holders of these posts.

Adi Litia says some members of the Great Council had called her to raise their concerns about Ratu Epeli's actions and it is her duty to make their views public.

She says the vice president is innocent until proven guilty and has warned Ratu Epeli not to overstep his authority.

Adi Litia, who is a government senator, has previously called in the Upper House for all coup prosecutions against Ratu Jope and other high chiefs to be dropped.

But the Fijian Political Party, the SVT, has backed Ratu Epeli, saying he had done the right thing and Ratu Jope must step aside.