2 Mar 2005

Fiji government rejects US State department report on racial polarisation

2:17 pm on 2 March 2005

Fiji's prime minister has called on the United States not to interfere in the country's internal affairs.

Radio Legend says Laisenia Qarase was responding to the latest US State Department report on Fiji, which highlights racial discrimination and ethnic polarisation.

The report says the ethnic divide between Fiji's ruling SDL and the Labour Party remains an obstacle to the long-term political stability of the country.

But Mr Qarase says US interference in Fiji's domestic affairs serves no purpose.

Mr Qarase says Fiji could prepare a similar report on the same issues in the United States which would be far worse than the State Department report.

He says he believes his government is doing a reasonably good job trying to solve the problems highlighted by the US.

Mr Qarase has also blamed the US report for being biased and says he would not give it much weight.

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.

It says the role of religion is tied closely to racial antagonism with prominent figures in the Methodist Church and allied political parties continuing to advocate the establishment of a Christian state and the church displaying strong nationalist sympathies.

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