16 Jun 2005

Former High Commissioner says politics behind Fiji's Reconciliation Bill

10:38 am on 16 June 2005

The former Australian high commissioner to Fiji says the Qarase government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill has been engineered because of the prime minister's concern to keep its coalition partners onside in the run up to next year's elections.

Susan Boyd gave the explanation on the ABC's Asia Pacific Focus programme.

Ms Boyd said most of those convicted and sent to jail since the coup were members of the government's coalition partner, the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua party.

She said that is the party the prime minister relies on for his majority in parliament.

Ms Boyd said although Mr Qarase maintains that the Bill would heal relations between indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians, most human rights and non-government organisations in Fiji doubt that any such thing would happen.

Ms Boyd said the Bill was a strategy to bring together indigenous political parties so that there is more power in the hands of Fijian parties.

Fiji's former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has made similar remarks saying the Bill is the result of a promise made by the prime minister to his Conservative Alliance coalition partners.