By Nanise Volau
A MAJOR row erupted two days before the planned installation of the new Vunivalu of Bau.
Ratu Joji Kadavulevu Cakobau Junior challenged Ratu Epenisa Cakobau’s planned installation on Bau today.
Ratu Joji is the older half brother of Ratu Epenisa.
A spokesperson for the Tui Kaba clan told Islands Business the chiefly family met on Bau eight times.
At the last meeting on Monday the family endorsed the installation of Ratu Epenisa.
The spokesman said the four sub-clans in the Tui Kaba clan – Mataiwelagi, Naisogolaca, Qaranikula and Muaidule – would normally meet and unanimously select the candidate.
He said a similar meeting was held in 2012 where it was agreed to install Ratu Epenisa. But The Native Lands Commissioner, Ratu Vananalagi Vesikula, intervened last night.
He said correct selection procedures were not followed and the installation could not go ahead.
This morning armed troops and police raided Bau and seized Ratu Epenisa and 2 senior chiefs who were critical in the installation process.
But two hours after the arrest, a church service was held on Bau Island to pray for the arrested chiefs.
After the service celebrations continued as planned. Present were Tui Bua, the chiefly clan of Batiki and the Turaga na Gone Sau from Nakorotubu, Ra.
Some guests were traditionally farewelled soon after the church service.
Turaga na Roko Tui Bau, Ratu Timothy Daniel,the head of the Yavusa Ratu, which conducts part of the the installation ceremony, did not attend the service this morning.
He withdrew from the installation ceremony reportedly because he felt proper procedures were not followed in Ratu Epenisa’s selection. But earlier this month Ratu Timothy appeared in local newspapers with Ratu Epenisa to say the ceremonies would proceed. Ratu Joji and Ratu Epenisa are half-brothers.
Their father was the late Ratu Sir George Cakobau, the first local Governor-General of Fiji and the last Vunivalu. The title has been vacant since his death in 1989.
Ratu Joji is Ratu Sir George’s only son from his first marriage to Adi Veniana Gavoka. He has two older siblings, the late Adi Samanunu Cakobau Talakuli, a former diplomat and former minister, and Adi Litia, a former senator.
Ratu Epenisa is Ratu Sir George’s eldest son from his second marriage to Adi Lady Lelea Seruwaia Balekiwai. He has three siblings, Adi Salote Kaunilotuma Cakobau, Ratu Josefa Celua Cakobau and Ratu Tanoa Visawaqa Cakobau.
By late this afternoon, Ratu Epenisa and the other two chiefs were still in police custody.