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Govt abolishes Great Council of Chiefs


Mar 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM

Govt abolishes Great Council of Chiefs Fiji's Great Council of Chiefs or Bose Levu Vakaturaga has been abolished, 136 years after it was set up.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama said the institution had become irrelevant in an era that Fiji seeks common and equal citizenry.

A decree, the iTaukei Affairs Revocation Regulation, effecting the abolishment was signed by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and gazetted on Friday.

Bainimarama said the GCC was an institution created by the British during colonialism and has become politicised to the detriment of Fiji.

“The GCC is a product of our colonial past and Fiji must focus on the future in which all Fijian are represented on the same basis,” Bainimarama said.

“If all Fijians are to have their say during the consultation for Fiji’s new constitution then we must ensure every voice is equally heard and equally represented,” he said.

He said GCC members and its secretariat have become highly politicised, with members having political affiliations and membership of political parties.

The GCC was behind the formation of the Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei, a party led by 1987 coup leader Lt-Col Sitiveni Rabuka.

It was created in 1876 by the British, an elite body of iTaukei chiefs known as the Native Council, to help directly and indirectly implement its rule over Fiji.

Bainimarama suspended it in April 2007 after the December 2006 military takeover.

The last GCC chairman was the Tui Tavua, Ratu Ovini Bokini, while the Ratu Sakiusa Makutu of Nadroga was his deputy.

The GCC had comprised 55 members, including the Fiji President:, Vice-President and Prime Minister, 42 provincial councillors with 3 chosen by each of Fiji's 14 provinces, six members apppinted by the President on the advice of the Minister for Fijian Affairs, three members of the Rotuma Council and life member Sitiveni Rabuka, the 1987 military coup leader.

All of Fiji constitutions gave the GCC a lot of power and influence over politics and government decisions especially through the Senate.

Fiji's 1970 Independence Constitution allowed the GCC to appoint eight of the 22 members of the Senate.

The 1990 Constitution that came into place after Rabuka's 1987 military coup increased this such that the GCC appointed 24 of the new Senate's 34 members. The GCC would also apppoint the President and Vice-President of the nation..

The 1997 Constitution reduced its powers, giving it 14 appointees out of 32 in the Senate.

By Mereani Gonedua


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