(o+) President Aims to Unite Chiefs

The President, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, intends to reconcile all chiefs within Fiji. He said it wasthe will of the people that all chiefs unite. Ratu Epeli is optimistic that despite the differences, dialogue could be maintained among the chiefly.

"Reconciling the chiefs is an ongoing process," he said."We have our differences. I have differences even with my close friends who happen to be chiefs but it is not the end of the world because there is always a way out of a sticky situation."

"As the representative of the people I have to be open, listen to people and hear what they have to say.We might have our differences but it doesn't stop me from trying to work things out."

To carry out the reconciliation process, Ratu Epeli said he would need to visit the 14 provinces in the country."It's a matter of making the arrangements and planning them." He made the comment during his tour of Macuata, the first province he visited after he became President.

Ratu Epeli is expected to visit the Western Division next week."I've been meeting the people and seen positive signs of what they want to achieve and the way the community has rallied behind their developments especially in schools."That is the basis of all this.
"If we can get it right at the beginning, it will augur well for the future."

-- Fiji Times, Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Anonymous said…
Good luck, Epeli, but the truth is you can't even get unity among your closest kaivata in Bau. So how do you expect to achieve reconciliation beyond your own backyard? The failure of all of you to agree on a new Vunivalu shows how pointless this initiative is right from the start.

The truth is Bau has firmly rejected Epeli as Vunivalu and the squabble continues about who should get the title. And Epeli has precious little standing with many, if not most, of Fiji's other chiefs.

Remember, the Great Council of Chiefs rejected him as President when he was put forward as candidate during the period before the constitution was abrogated and the GCC still had the power to dispense the top job. And that animosity hasn't changed. If anything, the sidelining of the GCC has made many chiefs even more determined never to acknowledge Epeli's authority.

This story obviously emanates from some novice who has no idea of the background here and the pointless nature of Epeli's comments. He might be trying to use the Presidency to rally support for the regime among the chiefs. But when they had the power to do so, they wouldn't give him the top job and aren't about to cosy up to him now.

This is the fundamental problem Epeli faces. Being anointed President by Frank and his "illegal regime" is one thing, being accepted as legitimate by the Vanua after they've been excluded from the process totally another. Anyone who knows anything about Fijian politics knows Epeli has no legs and neither does this story.
Anonymous said…
Notice he's beginning his mission in the western division, the one part of Fiji he can count on to be welcoming and receptive. He'll have the mana of his predecessor, the Tui Vuda, behind him there but after that? In the end, the chiefs have to make a decision about where this all ends. If they continue to refuse to play ball with Frank, will he be able to rally the commoners behind him and erode their position at village level? Like all authority figures, power is the only thing that matters to the GCC. If they judge Frank and Epeli capable of eventually bringing the whole pack of cards down, they'll be willing to compromise. And I guess that's the gamble the regime is taking; that the chiefs, out of sheer self interest, will be the first to blink. One of the biggest shocks they got in recent times was when the Roko Tui Rewa defied his own high chief, Ro Temumu Kepa, and told the Methodists they weren't welcome in loma ni koro for their annual conference. This indicates a nascent grass roots rebellion that is pretty hard to stop once it takes root. That's what the chiefs are worried about and Frank knows it. He also knows he's not dealing with people of the calibre of the elders Mara, Cakobau and Ganilau who commanded respect vaka turaga, unlike the degenerate rabble that passes for much of the GCC nowadays. Hereditary power ain't want it used to be and not just in Fiji. Just ask the British.
Anonymous said…
Just two things show us how much the chiefs have been weakened by conflict and indecision:

1/ the inability of the Bauans to fill the position of Vunivalu so many years after the death of the last incumbent, Ratu Sir George Cakobau.

2/ The inability of the Lauans to fill the position of Tui Nayau so long after the death of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

These are arguably the two most senior "princely" titles in Fijian society and while they remain vacant, much of traditional life is at a standstill.

The truth is the chiefly system has never been so weak and when something's weak, it's deeply vulnerable.

The urban drift, chiefly scandals and the advent of the "me" society even in traditionally communal Fiji - it's all bearing down on the chiefs in their rickety bures like some monstrous hurricane.
joe said…
What is the big idea of uniting these mischief makers? What's next? Unite the Methodists?, then the Nationalists, SDL, NFP and FLP and we are back to sq.1, a perfect recipe for disaster. I think Fiji can do without the aforementioned racially polarised groups. Isn't this what the current govt. is all about?, or are we being hood winked again? The highest chiefs in Fiji right now are Frank and yourself. If you cant do your job right, do the honourable thing. Chiefs are like brahmans in the hindu sect, ie inheritance by birth, the chosen ones by God supposedly. What a load of rubbish. We are all sons of the same Father for Gods sake. Unite the people of Fiji Mr. President. You are the Head of State, and the majority have faith in you. If you are so inclined towards chiefs, would you like to step aside and surrender the presidency to Ratu Inoke Takiveikata?, or Ro Teimumu? Fiji will never ever have a true democracy if its Head of State has demonstrated a will to enfranchise an irrelevant group in relation to significant presidential appointments as provided for in the now abrogated 1997 constitution. Is this the best you can come up with, Mr President? I have been supporting this govt since Dec 2006, but it seems there is very little difference between "A rock and a hard place"