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
"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
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