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Fiji’s chiefs get thumbs down

Wednesday 27 April 2016 | Published in Regional

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FIJI – The doing away with the Great Council of Chief’s (GCC) in 2006 dominated the opening of the April sitting of the Fijian Parliament this week.

Opposition MP Viliame Gavoka presented a petition to parliament for the GCC to be reinstated.

In a two and half hour long debate, government used its numbers to defeat the motion and pass on a strong message that the reinstatement of the GCC was no longer relevant to Fiji.

The motion was defeated by 29 votes.

The opposition had wanted the matter to be referred to a Standing Committee to allow consultation on the matter from members of the public.

While debating the motion, Gavoka said the GCC was the apex of the iTaukei community.

“The GCC was the strength that made Fiji what it is today. We need the chiefs to be elevated for the peace and prosperity of this country,” he said.

Gavoka said without the GCC, the country was like “a family without its father”.

“GCC needs to be linked with the people of this country as they played an important role in their lives.

“GCC made Fiji the way the world should be and also helped in freeing up resources for various developments in the country.

“The country needs a dialogue on the important role the GCC plays for the iTaukei people.”

Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa also supported the motion, saying the government needed the support of the chiefs to make important resources available for the development of the country.

Government MPs did not contribute to the debate, choosing to comment with their votes.

When asked why government did not contribute to the debate, Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said he had “no comment”.

But government whip Ashneel Sudhakar told The Fiji Times that “the Prime Minister will make a comprehensive statement on the matter”.

Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama was absent from the house during the vote. He was away overseas.

- Fiji Times