26 Jul 2005

Fiji's Lau group becomes the last province to support Reconciliation Bill

8:39 am on 26 July 2005

The home province of Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has become the last of the country's 14 indigenous provinces to come out in support of his Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

But the vote was split, as some districts, with close ties to the president deposed during the coup, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, expressed their disagreement.

Radio Legend reports that the dissenting districts raised concern that the proposed Bill was against the things that the former president had stood for.

The late Ratu Mara's daughter, Senator Adi Koila Mara Nailatikau, has expressed deep disappointment with the decision to support the Bill by a majority.

Adi Koila had earlier said if the Lau Council supported the Bill, it would mean that they agreed to what George Speight did to her father who was the paramount chief of the province.

Adi Koila said if they agreed to the amnesty clause, it would mean that they supported terrorism and thuggery.

Meanwhile, with all 14 indigenous provincial councils endorsing the Bill, Mr Qarase will now take it to this week's meeting of the Great Council of Chiefs which will also hear the views of the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama.