2 Mar 2005

US State Department report condemns ethnic divide in Fiji

11:23 am on 2 March 2005

The United States government says the ethnic divide between Fiji's two major political parties remains an obstacle to the long term political stability of the country.

This is the assessment of the US State Department's latest report on Fiji which focuses on human rights issues.

The report says ethnic discrimination remains a serious problem in Fiji with parliamentarians making racist remarks about Indo-Fijians on numerous occasions and the eviction of Indo-Fijian tenants by indigenous Fijian landowners continues to occur.

The State Department report says the role of religion is tied closely to racial antagonism.

It says prominent figures in the Methodist Church and allied political parties continue to advocate the establishment of a Christian state with the church displaying strong nationalist sympathies.

The report also says policies on hiring, education and land favour indigenous Fijians.

As well, it highlights corruption in the government with transparency in some ministries being virtually non-existent.

The State Department report also highlights illegal immigration, with the minority Chinese community continuing to grow dramatically amid connections to illegal activities, including murder related to organised crime.