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Fiji de-establishs Great Council of the Chiefs

03-14-2012 11:20 BJT

SUVA, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Fiji announced on Wednesday that it will formally de-establish the Great Council of the Chiefs (GCC), saying it is "an institution created during the British colonialism, and one that in modern times has become politicized to the detriment of Fiji's pursuit of a common and equal citizenry."

The decree has been approved by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

"The Great Council of the Chiefs is a product of our colonial past and Fiji must now focus on a future in which all Fijians are represented on the same basis," Prime Minister Bainimarama said in a statement.

"If all Fijians are to have their say during the consultations for Fiji's new constitution, we must ensure every voice is equally heard and equally represented," Bainimarama added.

In 1875, the British during colonialism created an elite body of iTaukei Chiefs, known as the "Native Council," to directly and indirectly implement its rule over Fiji, which later came to be called the Great Council of Chiefs.

The prime minister further explained that over the last 20 years or so, the GCC, including its secretariat, became highly politicized, with its members having political affiliations and membership in political parties. Unfortunately, this resulted in the GCC and its members unduly involving themselves in national politics and/or taking advantage of the GCC's traditional role to assert personal or political agenda.

"Fiji's iTaukei heritage is a distinct and fundamental aspect of Fiji - this cannot be denied; however, as an institution the Great Council of Chiefs perpetuated elitism and fed into the divisive politics which plagued our country. We must now look to our commonalities as citizens of the same nation, not to what separates us as individuals or groups," Bainimarama said.

The Ministry of Information said in its media release on Wednesday that in recent years, the Bainimarama Government has done much to ensure that many of the challenges facing the iTaukei have been addressed - including equal distribution of land lease monies.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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