The first Great Council of Chiefs meeting will take place in May – President
The govt does not seek to place indigenous rights above the rights of our minority ethnic communities – Ratu Wiliame

The first Great Council of Chiefs meeting will take place in May – President

The govt does not seek to place indigenous rights above the rights of our minority ethnic communities – Ratu Wiliame

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 03/02/2023
President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere

President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere has confirmed that the first Great Council of Chiefs meeting will be held in May.

While opening the new parliament session, Ratu Wiliame says government must respect the human rights of every person in Fiji as guaranteed in the 2013 Constitution as well as the rights of all communities in Fiji.

He says we must also recognize the rights of the first people of this nation or the iTaukei and the people of Rotuma as guaranteed in international agreements like the ILO Convention 169 on the rights of the indigenous and tribal people as well as the UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous People.

The President says indigenous rights are a category of human rights, similar to women’s rights, the rights of the disabled and the rights of the children.

He says in recognizing these rights, the government does not seek to place indigenous rights above the rights of members of our minority ethnic communities.

While announcing that the GCC will sit in late May, the President says he is reminded of the words of the late Justice Jai Ram Reddy who addressed the Council of Chiefs in 1997 as the Leader of Opposition.

Ratu Wiliame says the principle iTaukei statutes will be reviewed.

These include the iTaukei Affairs Act, iTaukei Lands Act, iTaukei Lands Trust Act and the iTaukei Development Fund Act.

The President says their prime objective is to improve the economic position of the iTaukei and lift the living standards of villagers and settlements.

He says the iTaukei recognize that it is in the national interest of the iTaukei to increase their involvement in commerce.

Ratu Wiliame says to help achieve this, an inaugural iTaukei resource owners forum will bring together resource owners and advisers with the necessary expertise to develop a roadmap for moving forward.

You can watch the President's full speech below:

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