9 Mar 2005

Fiji's National Federation Party criticises former PM's statement on Indian leaders

4:23 pm on 9 March 2005

The former Fiji prime minister, Sitiveni Rabuka, has been criticised by his longtime political opponent for changing his policy on the ethnicity of the top job in government.

Mr Rabuka has told the Fiji Sun newspaper that no ethnic Indian should hope to become the country's political leader.

But the leader of the National Federation Party, Pramod Rae, says in making that statement, Mr Rabuka has gone back on his work on the 1997 constitution which paves the way for people of all races to fight for the premiership.

Mr Rae says the character of the leader is more important than their racial provenance.

"The question here that really should be asked is what kind of Indian or Indo-Fijian will lead a political party and how will he behave in that position."

Mr Rae describes as inaccurate Mr Rabuka's comparison of Fiji Indians with the leader of India's Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, who won the last election there but handed the premiership to a colleague who had been born in India.