8 Mar 2006

Fiji President thanks chiefs on re-appointment

11:04 pm on 8 March 2006

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs has reappointed the president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, and the vice president, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, to a further five-year term in office.

The two high chiefs were appointed unanimously despite earlier fears of divisions by wrangling and lobbying for other potential candidates including some coup convicts.

Radio Legend reports that after his re-appointment, President Iloilo thanked the chiefs for their confidence in him and urged the people to move together as a united nation.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, said he accepted the decision with utmost respect and hoped the appointment of the two high chiefs will move the country forward.

The military has described the decision as good news for the people of Fiji.

A senior military spokesman, Lt Col Orisi Rabukawaqa, says they are happy with the decision which shows that members of the Great Council of Chiefs regard themselves as the chiefs of all the people of Fiji.

The former chairman of the Great Council and president of the National Alliance Party, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, says he was confident all along that the two men would be re-appointed because the chiefs would come together to demonstrate unity.

But President Iloilo's people at Vuda near Lautoka, where is his high chief, have expressed disappointment that a delegation called there on Tuesday night and asked him to withdraw from the contest for the presidency.

The traditional spokesman for the Tui Vuda, which is President Iloilo's title, says the three chiefs were reprimanded by the people of Vuda and told to wait for the decision of the Great Council of Chiefs.

Ratu Viliame Natukumakuma claims that the education minister and Roko Tui Dreketi, Ro Teimumu Kepa, arranged the meeting through Ratu Tevita Momoedonu last Friday but was not present herself.