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Parliament passes Bill to reinstate the Great Council of Chiefs

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Parliament has passed the iTaukei Affairs (Amendment) Bill 2023 which allows the reinstatement of the Great Council of Chiefs.

28 MPs voted for the Bill, 22 voted against it, 3 did not vote and 1 MP abstained.

While tabling the Bill, Attorney General, Siromi Turaga said the Great Council of Chiefs was established under the iTaukei Affairs Act 1944 however in 2012 the establishing provision of the Council was repealed through the iTaukei Affairs (Amendment) Decree 2012 which also removed or amended various provisions under the Act that made reference to the Council.

The iTaukei Affairs (Amendment) Bill 2023 amends the Act to insert an establishing provision for the GCC in the Act and includes reference to the Council in other provisions of the Act and the iTaukei Trust Fund Act 2004 as applicable.

The Bill also requires the iTaukei Affairs Board to refer to the Council any question relating to the iTaukei people that the Minister may submit to the Board.

The Bill also amends section 11 of the Act to require the Minister to refer to the Board or the Council any proposed Bill that is intended to be introduced to Parliament and

which may appear to the Minister to affect in any important matter the rights and interests of the iTaukei people.

The Board or the Council, as the case may be, is then required to submit the proposed Bill with a memorandum, which is to be used in the Parliamentary debate process.

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Fiji News

Fiji’s decision to support Israel’s occupation of Palestine ‘disturbing’ – Bainimarama

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Former Fiji prime minister Frank Bainimarama says the country’s intervention at the International Court of Justice on the Israel-Gaza issue betrays Fiji’s legacy as peacekeepers.

Paul Reichler, an attorney representing Palestin at the ICJ revealed this week that Fiji and the United States – the only nations – to defend Israel’s occupation of Palestine.

Bainimarama said Fiji’s stance “insults the intelligence of every Fijian”.

The former prime minister and military commander said that position undoes Fiji’s long-standing commitment to neutrality, peacekeeping, and the principles of self-determination and decolonization.

“The coalition government’s claim that the occupation of foreign territory by Israel is legal – an argument not even advanced by Israel itself – reveals a disturbing truth that Fiji’s voice to the world is hostage to a demented few who are hellbent on destroying our national reputation,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

“This action contradicts our firm stance on the rights to independence and statehood, rights we have championed for our Pacific brothers and for all colonial peoples.

He said Fiji has stood with Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati, and others in their pursuit of independence.

“e must ask ourselves: with what credibility will we support the independence of territories like New Caledonia and French Polynesia? We must not be selective in our support for statehood and independence.

“Our actions today will define our legacy and our ability to lead in the Pacific and beyond.

“The world should know that the vast majority of Fijians stand on the side of peace. That is our national character and that is the spirit in which we offer our service on the frontlines of conflict zones around the world.”

‘Profoundly troubling’ – human rights coalition

Fiji’s human rights coalition has condemned the Fiji government’s decision at the ICJ.

The group said the country’s “position is profoundly troubling and starkly contrasts the values of justice, freedom, and international law that the Fijian people hold dear”.

“The public has a right to understand how such positions, which significantly impact Fiji’s standing on the global stage and its moral compass, are determined.

“We call upon the government to disclose the rationale and any consultations or analysis that led to this stance,” they added.

The coalition said it wants the Fiji government “to reconsider its position”.

“We urge the Fijian government to demonstrate its commitment to human rights and justice by advocating for the rights of all people, including the Palestinian people, to live in peace, security, and dignity.”

Source: RNZ

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Businessman jailed in PWD scam

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A businessman and owner of Professional Stationery Services, Shalendra Kumar has been sentenced to seven years imprisonment after he was found guilty for his involvement in the former Public Works Department (PWD) scam, where he colluded with other PWD staff and obtained more than $34,000.

Shalendra Kumar was convicted and sentenced for the offence of obtaining a financial advantage and for attempting to pervert the course of justice after being charged by FICAC.

FICAC says for the second offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice, Kumar had created false company delivery dockets and back dated them in an attempt that they could be used as evidence to exonerate him.

Kumar created these dockets while the criminal case against him was still pending in court.

His non-parole period of 5 years.

This is the second case successfully prosecuted by FICAC against those involved in the PWD scam.

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Bainimarama and Qiliho charged Offences relate to alleged abuse of office, regarding the unlawful termination of two police officers in 2021

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Former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and suspended Police Commissioner Sitiveni Qiliho have been charged with offences relating to alleged abuse of office, regarding the unlawful termination of two police officers in 2021.

Assistant Commissioner of Police Crime, Mesake Waqa confirms Bainimarama and Qiliho were kept in custody at the Totogo Police Station last night, and will appear in the Suva Magistrates Court today.

Bainimarama has been charged with one count of unwarranted demands made by a public official contrary to Section 355 of the Crimes Act 2009.

Bainimarama is alleged to have between the 21st day of May 2021 to the 18th day of August 2021, whilst being employed as a public official made an unwarranted demand with menaces of a former senior Police officer to allegedly terminate the employment of other police officers.

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