2 Aug 2006

Fiji NLTB seeks help from jailed high chief

10:17 am on 2 August 2006

Fiji's Native Lands Trust Board has sought the help of a high chief serving a life term in Suva Prison to secure a mobile phone licence for its subsidiary.

Fiji TV reports that the NLTB's general manager, Kalivati Bakani, visited Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, who is serving a life sentence for inciting the November 2000 mutiny, to persuade him to intercede on its behalf with the government.

The NLTB wants the government to grant a second mobile phone licence to its commercial arm, Vanua Development Corporation Limited, rather than another company, DIGICEL of the West Indies.

Fiji TV showed a letter written from prison by Ratu Inoke to the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, urging that Vanua Development should be granted a mobile phone licence immediately.

Ratu Inoke writes that if the licence is granted to another company it would be detrimental to the SDL government's commitments to indigenous Fijians.

He says if the licence is given to a province, it will only promote provincialism.

DIGICEL, which has signed a multi-million dollar agreement to sponsor Fiji rugby, is in partnership with the Ba Provincial Holding Company in its application for a mobile phone licence.

Last April, the ministry of information and telecommunications gave DIGICEL approval in principal for a mobile phone licence.

The NLTB says its approach to Ratu Inoke is part of its effort to lobby support from influential chiefs.