13 Sep 2004

Former Fiji PM Rabuka says country not ready for Indian leader

3:15 pm on 13 September 2004

Fiji's former Prime Minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, says the country's Indian leaders should accept the people are not ready for a non-indigenous ruler.

Mr Rabuka - who was instrumental in bringing in the non-racial 1997 Constitution - says in hindsight the people were not ready to accept an Indian leader.

He says the ousted Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, should follow the example set by Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, the head of the Congress Party when in opposition in India.

"As the major party there she won the election and elected not to be Prime Minister. That is a precedent that all the global people of Indian origin should be following wherever they are. It may be too late now for Mauritius but it's certainly not too late for Fiji, for the Indian leaders to accept that."

Mr Rabuka says he doubts however that Mr Chaudhry would make such a humble gesture if he was elected as Prime Minister in 2006.

He says he still believes in the Constitution but says indigenous Fijians need to retain political power for now to avoid any further coups.