1 Dec 2004

Calls to open up role of Fiji's vice-president to all races

4:17 pm on 1 December 2004

A prominent indigenous Fijian, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, is calling for the role of vice-president to be open to all races.

The position is now vacant following the resignation of Ratu Jope Seniloli, who was released last week after three months into a four year prison sentence on coup-related convictions.

The country's presidents and vice-presidents have always been appointed from chiefly families and it's now up to the president to fill the role after advice from the Great Council of Chiefs.

But, Ratu Epeli, who's a former Council chairman, says the appointment should be based on merit, not race.

"We should open up the position not only within the indigenous community but to everyone, all the other communities as well because there are citizens of this country, other than indigenous Fijians, who have given tremendous contributions to the development of this country over the years. And, they should be also recognised for their outstanding contribution to this nation."

Ratu Epeli made the comments after a Bau chief called for the position to be open to people other than chiefs.