back to new archives for 15-17 June 2000
Civil servant's home attacked -
Arson attempt on home of Fijian Affairs Secretary
Ratu Meli Bainimarama is linked to NLTB statement

Saturday, June 17, 2000

An attempt on the life of the Secretary for Fijian Affairs by armed thugs has been attributed to the standoff between the ministry and the Native Land Trust Board management team.

Ratu Meli Bainimarama was at home with members of his family on Thursday night when an army mobile patrol thwarted efforts by a group of men suspected to be on the verge of setting his residence alight with Molotov cocktails.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini last night condemned the act saying it will be investigated.

"The army certainly will not tolerate these intimidatory tactics by elements bent on creating fear in the country," Lt. Col Tarakinikini said.

"With the police, we will ensure that such people bear the full brunt of the law."

He appealed to the public for help in maintaining law and order.

The intended assault is believed to be in retaliation for a media release by Ratu Meli in which he criticised the management of the NLTB for overstepping their corporate role by circulating a document titled "Deed of Sovereignty", which called on all traditional "yavusa" heads to sign the document which will guarantee a perpetual indigenous government.

In his release, Ratu Meli had called for the resignation of the NLTB officers who produced and distributed the document which included its general manager Maika Qarikau and Public Relations Officer Sireli Korovulavula.

Ratu Meli decried the involvement of the NLTB saying the officers involved had overstepped their roles as public officers.

He described their stance as leading credibility to and reflected their tacit approval of the illegal actions by George Speight and his group.

"Public officers are known for their trustworthiness and loyalty to their work in the interest of the public and do not in any way involve themselves in politics.

"Their involvement in politics disqualifies them holding public offices and from being board members of organisations of public interest like the NLTB.

"This is why all officers involved in a politically motivated task surrounding the Deed of Sovereignty document must resign instead of being paid by the Board and being involved in politics," he said.

Ratu Meli said the document has not been passed by the Board, who if the law was followed, could have discussed it.

The document, he said, is requesting the chiefs to surrender their authority and that of their land to the civilian government, who the document refers to, as those who are holding the hostages in parliament.

"These are the people who have shown to the nation that they stand for violence and terror and these are same who are now asking you to surrender your traditional authority and land over them.

"George Speight and his group have achieved what the coup was for, the removal of the Chaudhry government and the abrogation of the 1997 Constitution but they did not accept the resolution of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga," said Ratu Meli.

He said Mr Qarikau has, through the media, questioned and challenged the position and authority of the position and authority of the GCC. Now Mr Qarikau is pushing for the GCC to support what is his personal agenda which is clearly not that of the GCC, the body which established the NLTB.

Ratu Meli has advised chiefs, who have signed the document but who wish to withdraw their signatures, to contact their respective provincial council offices.

Fiji's Daily Post


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last revision June 18, 2000