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Fiji's Bau high chief arrested over installation row

Armed Fiji soldiers and Police surrounded Bau Island this morning and detained Ratu Epenisa Cakobau, one of two claimants to the Vunivalu title.

Ratu Epenisa, son of the late Governor- General, Ratu Sir George Cakobau, was to have been traditionally installed.

But at 5am today, armed troops and police seized him and two others critical to the installation process.

Also detained and under guard at Nausori Police Station are his herald, the Tunitoga Ratu Jack Komaitai and Ratu Dr Meli Malani who would have opened the proceedings by accompanying Ratu Epenisa to the installation venue.

Fiji Police Comissioner Brigadier General Sitiveni Qiliho confirmed in a statement Ratu Apenisa was taken in for questioning by Police this morning.

Brigadier General Qiliho said a team of officers were sent to Bau Island at first light this morning and have taken Ratu Epenisa Cakobau and key players in for questioning.

He said this was after information was received that they were adamant on continuing with the installation ceremony despite the decision made by the Native Lands Commission (NLC) which was relayed to them last night.

Last night Native Lands Commissioner, Ratu Vananalagi Vesikula, said the ceremonies had been cancelled because proper procedures were not followed in the selection process.

Ratu Vesikula said he had consulted the chairman of the Native Lands Commission, Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, before making the decision.

Ratu Vesikula - the NLC Commissioner- said he had made the decision based on discussions with the four households in the Tui Kaba Clan.

But he said the households of Mataiwelagi, Muaidule, Naisogolaca and Qaranikula were not in agreement.

Each of the households can provide the Vunivalu, traditional head of the Kubuna Confederacy since Ratu Seru Cakobau who led the ceding of Fiji to Britain in 1874.

Ratu Epenisa's older brother, Ratu George, has been proposed as an optional candidate.

The last Vunivalu was installed in 1959 and died in 1989. Since then the title has been vacant.

At least two people have laid claim to the title in the past.

Ratu Epenisa is Ratu Sir George's second wife, Lady Lelea Cakobau of Bau. 

Ratu George is the son of Ratu Sir George and Adi Viniana Gavoka of Namata.

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