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Discussion paper

Abstract: This paper provides an account of the rise and fall of chiefly leadership and the apparent ebbing of a longstanding ideology of traditionalism among indigenous Fijians in the context of national politics and of the claims made in the name of indigenous nationalism. It begins with a brief survey of Fiji’s colonisation in the late nineteenth century; the establishment of the GCC and the role of chiefs in the British colonial regime; and their domination of national politics, despite some challenges, up until 1987. The second section reviews the political dynamics surrounding chiefly leadership from 1987 until the Bainimarama-led coup of 2006. The final sections examine the nature of chiefly involvement in national politics in the lead-up to the 2014 elections and prospects for the future of traditional chiefly political leadership.

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