8 Sep 2004

Fiji chiefs debate jailed vice president's fate

9:03 am on 8 September 2004

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs will begin a three-day meeting today to decide the fate of the jailed vice president Ratu Jope Seniloli.

Seniloli is serving a four-year jail prison sentence for being sworn in as the usurper president immediately after the coup while the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was still holding office.

Seniloli has refused to resign as vice president and although unable to perform the functions of the office, he still enjoys its pay and privileges.

Seniloli and the four others jailed with him, including the deputy Speaker of parliament Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, have appealed against their convictions and this is scheduled for hearing from November the 2nd.

The Great Council of Chiefs is the appointing authority for Fiji's president and vice president.

Meanwhile, Vakalalabure remains the deputy speaker and chairman of parliament's sector committee which has oversight over justice, law and order.

This is even though the constitution says any MP jailed for more than 12 months should automatically lose his parliamentary seat.