26 Sep 2003

Fiji Labour Party leader says indigenous Fijians not helped by coups

10:31 am on 26 September 2003

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahednra Chaudhry, says ordinary indigenous Fijians have been becoming poorer since the coups of 1987 and 2000.

The Daily Post quotes Mr Chaudhry as telling a unity festival near Suva that the coup leaders deceieved ordinary Fijians by grabbing power under the pretext of protecting indigenous rights.

He says Sitiveni Rabuka, who staged the two military coups of 1987, has since admitted that indigenous rights were adequately protected under the 1970 Independence Constitution.

The deposed prime minister says George Speight and his men also made claims of indigenous rights.

But Mr Chaudhry says everyone knows that what motivated Speight was the rights to the multi-million dollar mahogany plantations, control of which he lost when the Labour Coalition Government sacked him as chairman of the Fiji Hardwood Corporation.

Mr Chaudhry says those who supported Speight in parliament were a riff-raff of opportunists, failed politicians and businessmen, and a group of mercenary soldiers who were promised big money.

He says others were lured to the parliamentary complex by feasts, the hope of adventure and promises of jobs.

Mr Chaudhry says the hollowness of claims about indigenous rights is supported by the realisation that the situation of ordinary indigenous Fijians has declined in the 16 years since the 1987 coups.