8 Mar 2006

Chiefly delegation asks Fiji President to step down ahead of Great Council meeting

9:18 am on 8 March 2006

A delegation of Fijian chiefs last night approached President Iloilo and asked him to step down before today's Great Council of Chiefs meeting to appoint the president and vice-president.

The FIJI SUN reports that this has been confirmed by the president of the Party of National Unity, Ponipate Lesavua.

Mr Lesavua says the team of five chiefs were led by the minister for education, Ro Teimumu Kepa, who herself holds one of Fiji's highest chiefly titles of Roko Tui Dreketi.

Mr Lesavua says it is unfortunate that Ro Teimumu led the team to ask President Iloilo to step down when she should rally behind the president because he is also a chief from the same traditional confederacy of Burebasaga.

Mr Lesavua says President Iloilo asked the chiefs to wait for the decision of the Great Council of Chiefs which meets today.

Military sources are quoted as saying this confirms their allegations that the SDL government is behind moves to remove President Iloilo because of his close relationship and support for the military commander, Commodore Bainimarama.

For the first time since he became commander, Commodore Bainimarama has not been invited to attend today's meeting of the Great Council.