2 Oct 2002

Fijian women's group urges end to racial comments from some ministers

10:45 am on 2 October 2002

A group of prominent indigenous Fijian women say the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, should apologise and act constitutionally instead of accepting racially divisive comments from some ministers.

Susana Tuisawau, the secretary-general of the Council of Pacific Education, says they wrote to the p.m. some time ago voicing their concerns and only made public the letter because they had had no response.

She says she doesn't think Mr Qarase will apologise because he could have done so already and hasn't.

Ms Tuisawau says she would like ministers to be better role models.

"What we hope to achieve is for people to rethink and to remove the racial barriers that they have in Parliament and try to bring the two groups together to talk through the obstacles and then to plan for the future road to take for Fiji."

Ms Tuisawau says the group has decided to take a pro-active approach to good governance and will focus on the participation of women in decision making, infrastructure in rural areas and education.

She says they will be making the government aware of areas that the group believes need improving.