4 Sep 2006

Former Fiji PM denies he wants abolition of chiefly system

6:56 pm on 4 September 2006

A former Fiji prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, says he is not calling for the nationalisation of ALL land.

Mr Rabuka says his comments were misunderstood when he appeared on Fiji TV and pointed to Tanzania, which nationalised its land and ended the chiefs reign at independence, as being stable for a long time.

He says this doesn't mean he wants the same thing to occur in Fiji.

Mr Rabuka says he believes the chiefly system should be retained although some young chiefs need educating and he says only some land should be nationalised.

"I'd be much happier if all the land, not immediately used or not currently used or immediately required, was nationalised. And, that nationalised land is the one upon which we put a value which we levy a tax on, and use that tax for the affirmative action for Fijians."

Mr Rabuka says other politicians are unlikely to support the concept and the idea will take time before it becomes acceptable.

Meanwhile, the chairman of Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs has called on Mr Rabuka to resign his life membership of the council.

The chairman of the Great Council, Ratu Ovini Bokini, has told Radio Legend that Mr Rabuka should re-examine his life membership of the council if he does not have faith in the country's traditional chiefly system.

Ratu Ovini says Mr Rabuka knows what he should do and if it comes to that he should resign.

The former chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, made a similar call at the weekend.

Mr Rabuka told an NGO group last week that he would probably be assassinated for making his suggestions but that was the way to go.