19 Apr 2007

Indo-Fijian academic says suspension of chiefs' council an unprecedented move

3:13 pm on 19 April 2007

One of the authors of Fiji's 1997 Constitution, Doctor Brij Lal, says the interim administration's suspension of the Great Council Of Chiefs is an unprecedented move.

Fiji's interim administration has published its decision in the government gazette following the GCC's refusal to recognise President Ratu Josefa Iloilo's nomination of Ratu Epeli Nailatikau as vice president.

Dr Lal says the council as a body cannot and is not abolished, because it is a constitutionally recognised body, but it could mean that its members might be suspended and its role reduced.

"What is happening is unprecedented. For the first time in the modern history of Fiji two of the principal social institutions of the indigenous population, the GCC and also the Methodist Church, have not only been sidelined, but silenced."

The interim minister for Fijian affairs says all members of the Great Council of Chiefs, or GCC, have been dismissed following the suspension of the council.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau says the interim administration is looking at a new role for the GCC.

All members of the GCC have now ceased to be members. It means we are just having a re-look at the membership and procedures that we need to rehash before we reconstitute a new GCC with new members later on when the review is complete.

Ratu Epeli Ganilau says he does not know how long the review process will take.