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Fiji Coup: Too Many Chiefs...

While Fiji coup leader George Speight meets with a group of Western Fijian chiefs to discuss solutions to the crisis, the military Government has distanced themselves from another delegation of chiefs which met Mr. Speight yesterday.

The latest press statement by the military says a Great Council of Chiefs delegation headed by Fijian chief Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi had no authority to negoitiate with the coup leader because it was “self appointed”.

'The Military Government does not believe that they (the group of chiefs) were close to a resolution of the current crisis, and even if they had, it would not have been worth anything because they were self appointed" said the statement.

The military made the release to refute claims made by Mr. Epeli that the delegation had been nearing a solution with Speight when the military imposed martial law. Mr. Epeli is well known as a Speight sympathiser.

Meanwhile a group of Western Chiefs is currently meeting with Mr. Speight to discuss the crisis, and may move to secede the Western province of Fiji from the republic.

Strong in tourism and in sugar cane harvesting the Western Province has much to lose from the economic impact of the crisis. A report from Fiji’s Macrofinance Unit to the military yesterday said the current disruption caused by the crisis could cost the Government over $200 million Fijian dollars (NZ$ 202 million) with a forecast balance of trade deficit of double this amount.

For full transcipt of the www.fijilive.com stories see below.

West chiefs meet with Speight

A delegation of chiefs from the West are meeting with coup leader George Speight and will meet with the military government afterwards.

The delegation, headed by Nadroga chief, Ratu Osea Gavidi, will discuss with both camps the resolutions passed by the chiefs on the present political crisis.

The West chiefs declared a fourth confederacy, asked for vice President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to be made President and set up a regional council of chiefs at the close of a two-day meeting in Nadi yesterday.

The chiefs will attempt to legitimise the fourth confederacy by getting approval from the Great Council of Chiefs but will not "beholden to its decision".

A refusal by the GCC could lead to a bid for secession and self-governance for the West.

Military clarifies GCC 'delegation'

The military government says a supposed Great Council of Chiefs delegation is acting on its own, and following its own agenda

. The group, headed by Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi, was not appointed for the task of negotiating with coup leader George Speight, says a military press statement.

'The Military Government does not believe that they (the group of chiefs) were close to a resolution of the current crisis, and even if they had, it would not have been worth anything because they were self appointed."

The statement was released to refute claims made by Ratu Epeli that the delegation had been nearing a solution with Speight when the military imposed martial law.

"The military also understands that the frequent calls for convening of the GCC was not on the instigation of Mr Speight. Rather, it was the underhand machination of Ratu Epeli Kanaimawi and some of the members of the GCC Committee, to enable them to influence matters and thereby gain foothold into the interim government."

Meanwhile, the military has also refuted claims by Speight that the soldiers with him were all regulars. The present status of the 'soldiers' are: Metuisela Mua - held position of Lieutenant Colonel as director of the Fiji Intelligence Service until he was terminated.

Tevita Buakarau - resigned from the Republic of Fiji Military forces last year. Presently a reserve. Ilisoni Ligairi - completed his contract with RFMF last year. Discharged. Joseva Savua - released from all military duties October 8, 1999.

On 265 days leave until June 28. Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure - is a reserve Penaia Baleinamu and Serupepeli Dakai - was serving with the First Meridian Squadron until they were decommission Tuesday. The cancellation of commission means the removal of all perks, including pensions and other benefits, says the military.


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