21 Aug 2003

Fiji Labour Party leader defends call for intervention force in Fiji

4:53 pm on 21 August 2003

The Fiji Labour party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has defended his document calling on Pacific Forum states to intervene in the impasse over the multi-party cabinet.

Mr Chaudhry says his comparison of Fiji with the Solomon Islands may not be too far fetched.

He says while Fiji may not have reached the level of destruction and violence that the Solomons have experienced, it must take warning from that fact that the country was not too far from total anarchy after the terrorist takeover of parliament in May 2000.

Mr Chaudhry says one cannot forget the fact that one third of Suva was torched, smashed, looted and ransacked on the day of the coup.

As well, he says, one cannot forget the fear and violence that prevailed as terrorists took over army posts and police stations in outlying areas of Tailevu, Naitasiri and Labasa.

Mr Chaudhry says scores of farming families were forced to flee their homes in terror as marauding thugs plundered their properties, crops and livestock, while others hid in ditches and forests at night to escape the violence.

In addition thousands of innocent families suffered untold hardship when they lost their jobs as a result of the economic devastation brought on by the coup.

Mr Chaudhry says the multi-party cabinet provisions of the constitution are designed to foster nation-building and move Fiji away from politically-driven racial tensions, divisions and violence and the three military coups in fifteen years.