10 Feb 2003

Fiji's UGP seeks to broaden its base

3:31 pm on 10 February 2003

Fiji's minority United General Party has revealed plans to widen membership to include all races and field candidates for all 71 seats in parliament for the next general election which is still more than three years away.

Until now the party has represented all those small communities in Fiji who are neither indigenous Fijian or ethnic Indian.

But the UGP has decided to embark on a major membership drive to recruit Fijians and Indians to its ranks.

The UGP secretary general, Bruce Rounds, says this is in response to the growing number of Fijians and Indians expressing interest in joining the party because they support the leadership of its head, Mick Beddoes.

Mr Rounds says Mr Beddoes has asked the party executive committee to start identifying young, progressive and moderate citizens from all communities who could be prospective candidates for the next general election.

Mr Beddoes wants a full 71-member line-up at least 18 months before the next poll in 2006 so they can start working with the people to gain support.

The ruling SDL Party is exclusively indigenous Fijian while Labour is mainly Indian.