1 Dec 2004

Calls to open up Fiji's vice-presidency to all races

1:49 pm on 1 December 2004

There is a call in Fiji for the roles of president and vice-president to be open to all races, instead of being reserved for chiefs.

A prominent indigenous Fijian, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, made the comments after the resignation of vice-president, Ratu Jope Seniloli, following his release last week, three months into a four year prison sentence on coup-related charges.

The country's presidents and vice-presidents have always been appointed from chiefly families.

But, Ratu Epeli says the roles should be open to all communities.

"We have to recognise that the position of the president or the vice-president is a position where everyone focusses on as a position symbolising the unity of our nation. And, the unity of our nation comprises all the communities that are represented here. And, I believe it should be opened up, not only within the indigenous community but to all the communities in Fiji."

Ratu Epeli says an appropriate candidate for the vacancy could be a former Appeal Court president, Simoti Takaram, who is an Indo-Fijian.