1 Apr 2004

Deposed Fiji PM condemns Qarase's remarks about coups of 1987 and 2000

8:19 am on 1 April 2004

Fiji prime minister, Laisenia Qarase's remarks in New Zealand this week have drawn strong reaction in Fiji.

Mr Qarase told a Wellington audience on Tuesday that Fiji was not a liberal democracy and he doubted whether it ever would be.

Mr Qarase also said that the coups of 1987 and 2000 were a tragedy but there was a context to them which indigenous Fijians understood.

The deposed prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, has told the Daily Post newspaper that Mr Qarase was trying to justify the illegal overthrow of his government.

Mr Chaudhry says Mr Qarase should not insult the Fijian psyche by implying that it condoned terrorist acts of treason and subversion so long as they are cloaked in the garb of indigenous rights.

Mr Chaudhry says the coups of 1987 and 2000 were treasonous acts committed by criminal elements who preyed on the emotions of ordinary Fijians.

But the 1987 coup leader and former prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, says he backs Mr Qarase's statements, adding that Fiji may never have liberal democracy if all the races living in the country choose to remain polarised.