6 Oct 2006

Fiji military seeks withdrawl of Land Claims Tribunal and Qoliqoli Bills

11:15 am on 6 October 2006

Fiji's military has formally called on the government to withdraw its controversial Land Claims Tribunal and Qoliqoli Bills because it says they have serious security implications for the country.

Fiji TV reports the call was part of the military's submission to the parliamentary committee hearing public views on the bills made by a delegation led by Col Meli Saubulinayau, who was the first commander of Fiji troops serving in Iraq.

The military questioned among other things the composition of the Indigenous Claims Tribunal, saying its chair and members should be thoroughly screened for previous criminal records and convictions.

Another army spokesman, Captain Seremaia Tuiteci, told the committee it was their duty as responsible leaders and elected representatives to stop the Qoliqoli Bill.

He said the Bills had far-reaching security, economic and social implications for the country and the indigenous community in particular.

The military also attacked the Native Lands Trust Board, the ministry of Fijian affairs and the minister for Fijian affairs, saying they should not be given powers to administer the Qoliqoli Bill.