www.fijitimes.com - Tuesday, August 05, 2008
ANY government which attempts to force traditional leadership upon the people, does so at enormous risk.
For in attempting to interfere with an age-old process, it fosters misunderstandings, misgivings and a general suspicion on the part of the community.
The interim administration has stated unequivocally that it does not accept the right of a number of members of the Great Council of Chiefs to represent their people in this organisation.
This stand is in line with its decision to exclude certain people from the proposed electoral process.
We have always been of the opinion that there must be a separation between the traditional process and that of the government.
A chief who decides to stand for Parliament must be willing to accept criticism on the floor of the House and be prepared to answer tough questions from parliamentarians and constituents.
That is the nature of politics.
No chief who enters politics should feel that he or she is immune from such questions or criticism.
Chiefly status is no protection in the world of politics.
Any chief who breaks the law cannot claim immunity by virtue of traditional status for the two systems are mutually exclusive.
We accept that traditional leaders must be accountable for their actions and we support the mechanisms which are embedded in the indigenous system to ensure accountability.
The indigenous people more than ever before are using these systems to force their leaders to abide by the time-honoured code through which they care for and are responsible to the people.
Reciprocity is the cornerstone of the traditional Fijian system. As part of this system the chiefs own nothing but the allegiance and honour of their people.
To maintain this honour, the chiefs must provide decisive, committed leadership by example.
In the past, chiefs who did not abide by the code were removed by the people.
There is no reason why the indigenous population cannot do the same again in the context of village, district or provincial meetings using the systems which exist.
What cannot be allowed to happen is for the interim administration to decide who is a chief suitable to be on the GCC.
Nor, for that matter, should the council decide who forms the government.