18 Nov 2003

Fiji Girmit Council rejects Labour claim about GCC presentation

4:55 pm on 18 November 2003

The Fiji Girmit Council has refuted claims from the Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, that it did not represent the Indian community when it made a traditional presentation to the Great Council of Chiefs to promote better race relations.

Mr Chaudhry described the 66-member delegation from a wide spectrum of the sponsoring organisations of the Girmit Council as "self-speaking" individuals.

But the council secretary, Dijendra Singh, has told the Fiji Sun that the delegation represented the majority of Indians including five town mayors and had the support of all Indian leaders except Mr Chaudhry.

Mr Singh says Labour Party members were part of the organising committee but had to withdraw after being pressured by Mr Chaudhry.

Mr Singh says the presentation to the Great Council of Chiefs was historic in that it was the first time in 124 years of Indian presence in Fiji that it had been done.

Mr Singh says their visit was a boost to reconciliation.