INTERIM Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has appointed himself chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs following a gazette issued under his name last week.
Dated February 13, 2008, the gazette on the Fijian Affairs Act states that each of the 14 provinces and Rotuma will have three representatives who have demonstrated exemplary leadership at vanua level and in the community at large.
As chairman, Commodore Bainimarama will appoint members that make up 52 members of the council who have been traditional installed and recorded as such in the register of Native Landowners administered by the Native Lands Commission.
The previous council had 62 members. Former life member Sitiveni Rabuka said a noticeable difference was the appointment of council members by the minister.
However, interim Attorney- General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the minister appoints on the recommendation of the provincial councils. Commodore Bainimarama will appoint six co-opt members who are chiefs by right, the gazette said.
Each member will take an oath of allegiance before the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo and can seek re-appointment at the end of their three year term.
Allowances will be prescribed by the chairman a matter which has not been deliberated in full as yet, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said. For members who want to resign, the date of their resignation will be effective from the date of the minister's endorsement, the gazette said. The minister as chairman may suspend, discipline or dismiss any member who brings disrepute to the council. Members are disqualified if they:
are an un-discharged bankrupt;
are serving a prison term;
have a previous conviction in the 10 years leading up to their appointment in the council, particularly if they have been released from prison after serving a term of imprisonment of more than six months, whether as an in-mate or extra-murual prisoner, or, completed community service order;
were held public office, including Senate and the House of Representatives over the past seven years preceeding their appointment to the council;
contested the general elections;
were office bearers of a political party;
have unsound mind in respect of the Mental Treatment Act;
have allegiance, obedience or adherence to a power or State outside Fiji including being a citizen or resident of another country.