14 Jul 2011

Adi Ateca Ganilau defiant after dumping by Fiji regime

4:43 pm on 14 July 2011

A prominent Fiji leader, Adi Ateca Ganilau, says she will continue speaking out against the interim regime, despite being dumped as the head of Lau's Provincial Council.

Fiji's interim regime says Adi Ateca was replaced because she didn't want to work with the Government.

Megan Whelan reports.

Adi Ateca Ganilau, who was elected on Tuesday, spoke out against the interim regime at the council meeting and has been replaced by the interim education minister, Filipe Bole.

Adi Ateca is the daughter of a former Fiji president and prime minister, the late Ratu Sir Kamasese Mara.

She is also the sister of Ratu Tevita Mara who recently fled Fiji for Tonga on sedition charges, and is married to the former interim minister of defence, Ratu Epeli Ganilau.

She says she was asked to stand by the people of Lakeba.

"Which I agreed to, I thought that it was my duty to do that. Because my brother was out of the country, and he was the last chairman and I can not let my people down if they come and ask me to stand up for them."

The man in charge of Government in the area, the Commissioner Eastern, Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni, says the Provincial Council is funded by the government.

He says that makes the meeting a government meeting.

The meeting was actually going on very well, until the outburst. It was at the end of it. Everything went well, everyone was very receptive to all that was happening, until she made that statement.

But Adi Ateca says she's always thought that the council was run by the province, and she doesn't buy the claim that it is a government meeting.

She says she told the meeting that people shouldn't allow themselves to be coerced into agreeing with the regime's so-called people's charter.

Because government was going around trying to coerce people to lend their support, and if not, they were not going to get any development aid, which I thought was wrong. And I said that any government of the day, whether it is an elected government, or a government that comes in by force, it's their responsibility to provide services to the people.

Lieutenant Colonel Leweni says that shows she doesn't want to work with the government.

When you disagree with government policies and all the developments that the government wants to establish, you're actually indicating you're not willing to work with [the] government.

Neumi Leweni says the Government was happy with her appointment until the comments, but Adi Ateca says she was surprised it was allowed in the first place.

I could tell right from the first day that they did not want me there. I have seen over the last 2 years, that they just don't want any members of our family to have anything to do with government, or in any position of authority. They will try anything to get us out. <why do you think that is?> I think, well, now, I can see quite clearly that we must be a threat.

She says she still has a seat on the council, having been voted in by the people of Lakeba, and she will continue speaking out against the government.