9 Jun 2005

Fiji's former opposition leader criticises Prime Minister over indigenous claim

8:15 pm on 9 June 2005

Fiji's former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has sharply criticised the prime minister for saying that leadership of the country must remain in indigenous hands.

Laisenia Qarase made the comment on Radio Legend just before leaving for New Zealand.

Mr Beddoes has told the radio that this is a tactic by the SDL party to create fear in the indigenous community and send out a message that non-Fijians should not be allowed to govern the country.

Mr Beddoes says he has been attending meetings in many Fijian villages where the SDL government's blueprint for indigenous Fijians is a joke.

He says for 33 of the 34 years since independence, the country's leadership has been in Fijian hands.

Mr Beddoes says Fijians own over 90 of all the land and resources, control 99.9% of the government and yet indigenous Fijians remain the most disadvantaged.

He says the notion that Fijians will lose everything if there is non-indigenous leadership has never happened and is designed to suppress the people and create fear.

Mr Beddoes says the government's blueprint has benefitted only the indigenous elite while thousands of ordinary Fijians have not had any benefit.

He says unless all sectors of the community in parliament get together to help bridge the gap, Fijians will be the worst done by, by their own leaders.