18 Mar 2013

High chief critical of Fiji PM's move on provincial councils

2:38 pm on 18 March 2013

The paramount chief of Fiji's Cakaudrove province says the Prime Minister is further trying to shore up local support by appointing the chairpersons of the provincial councils.

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu says the announcement that the government will dictate the heads of provincial councils to promote its development projects is a worrying sign.

The Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama has defended the move, saying the government partly funds the councils with more than a million US dollars a year.

He says the hereditary chiefs are more interested in elites taking the senior roles and shouldn't lecture about democracy.

But Ratu Naiqama says this move is another attempt to blow the government's trumpet.

"When you are talking politics you are talking numbers, all he is trying to do is establish himself, to sway people's views and try and get the numbers. So far he has tried his best and has failed to get those numbers. When I say numbers, it's the support. That is why he is trying to go this way to make sure that what he says goes down there on the ground, and that is not democracy."

The Tui Cakau of Fiji's Cakaudrove province Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu.