2 Aug 2005

Fiji opposition leaders support president's call for action on land tenure

9:48 am on 2 August 2005

Fiji's opposition leader and former opposition leader have both welcomed President Iloilo's call to leave politics aside and the solve the country's land lease problems as a matter of urgency.

President Iloilo made the call when opening a joint session of parliament yesterday, adding that more than 5,000 agricultural leases on indigenous land had expired since 1997.

Mahendra Chaudhry has told Radio Legend that everyone agrees that land is an urgent matter.

But, he says, it must be resolved in a manner fair to both tenants and the landowners.

Mr Chaudhry, whose Labour Party pulled out of the parliament's select committee on land after the introduction of the Reconciliation and Unity Bill, says the proposals the President talked about are not before the committee.

Mick Beddoes, who is a member of the committee, says it will not be difficult to meet the president's deadline if discussions are held in good faith.

Mr Beddoes says Fiji has an abundance of land and all they have to do is find a fair formula that ensures a decent return for the indigenous landowners and security of tenure for the tenants.

He says if people put the country's interests ahead of their political agendas, they would be able to resolve many of the seemingly insurmountable issues currently besetting Fiji.