9 Mar 2006

Fiji chiefs discuss constitutional change

4:30 pm on 9 March 2006

Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs is today discussing whether the Constitution should be amended to allow other chiefs in public office to join the organisation.

Current law does not authorise office holders with chiefly status to hold a second public office as members of the GCC.

But the Citizens Constitutional Forum says the discussions are merely pre-election lobbying by chiefs with a vested interest in the change.

Its Executive Director, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says his organisation has always opposed the move, which has so far failed to get the support of parliament.

"That's a lobbying meeting, it's not actually, it doesn't have the final say, you need two thirds majority to change the constitution or to amend the constitution."

Currently, high chiefs such as the Transport Minister Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and the Education Minister, Ro Teimumu Kepa, can only attend GCC meetings as observers.

The president and vice president, speaker of the low house of representatives, senate president, cabinet ministers and MPs are also not permitted to be GCC members.