‘No need for guns’

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Picture: FT FILE

GOVERNMENT must respect the vanua and its protocols.

This was the response by Social Democratic Liberal Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka to Government’s use of armed soldiers and policemen to apprehend Bauan chief Ratu Epenisa Cakobau early on Friday morning.

It is alleged Ratu Epenisa was taken into custody for attempting to disobey a directive from the Native Lands Commission to stop his proposed installation as the Vunivalu.

Mr Rabuka said there was no need for heavy-handed tactics involving the use of guns to address a traditional issue.

“I note with dismay the series of unfortunate events, where a high chief was arrested today (Friday) by armed military and police personnel,” he said.

“Since the State of Emergency was lifted in 2012 with the repeal of the Public Emergency Regulations (PER), there is no place for participation of the military in policing matters, in a peaceful family and traditional setting.

“I urge the prime minister to respect vanua protocols, respect our traditions of veirokorokovi, veirogorogoci and the vanua’s own problem-solving and mediation processes.

“I caution the Government to consider a peace-promoting and problem-solving approach to the vanua, rather than the opposite.”

Ratu Epenisa was allegedly roused from his home in the early hours of yesterday morning by armed military men and police officers.

He was taken off the island and kept under tight guard allegedly for disobeying the NLC directive.

Police Commissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho issued a statement on Friday, saying he had requested the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to provide armed protection in the event of any confrontation with traditionally armed warriors who had already arrived on Bau Island.

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