23 Mar 2006

Fijian chiefs locked in battle over seat

10:36 am on 23 March 2006

A top level public row has broken out between two high indigenous Fijian chiefs.

The move is over who should be endorsed by the ruling SDL party as its candidate for the Rewa Fijian Communal seat in the coming general election.

At its centre is the current minister for education, Ro Teimumu Kepa, who holds one of Fiji's highest chiefly titles as Roko Tui Dreketi and has summoned a meeting of Rewa chiefs today to get their support for retaining her seat.

She is being challenged by her nephew, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, son of a onetime senior National Federation Party MP, Ratu Mosese Tuisawau.

Ro Filipe says the Rewa chiefs, whose duty is to look after the people, should not be manipulated by political aspirants for party political ends.

He says today's meeting would undermine the integrity of the Rewa chiefs because at the end of the day the people would vote individually.

But Ro Teimumu says the Rewa province lacks natural resources and as a cabinet minister, she would be in a position to promote development there.