5 Sep 2006

Fiji's prime minister surprised over calls to abolish chiefly system

8:00 am on 5 September 2006

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says he is utterly surprised by the former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka's call to abolish the country's traditional chiefly system.

The Daily Post quotes Mr Qarase as saying that the chiefly system is the very essence of indigenous Fijian identity.

And he says any move to strip away the chiefly system would mean ripping away the identity of the Fijians.

Mr Qarase says Mr Rabuka is a life member of the Great Council of Chiefs and for him to make such a call and to nationalise land resources would surprise the Fijian people.

A report in the Fiji Sun quotes the general secretary of the Methodist Church, the Rev Ame Tugaue, as saying Mr Rabuka's call is "dangerous" because it was through the chiefly system that Christianity was accepted.

The Rev Tugawe adds that if all assets are given to the government to control, there will be no hope for indigenous Fijians in the future.