31 Aug 2005

Fiji opposition leader attacks PM over comments on democracy

9:12 am on 31 August 2005

Fiji's opposition leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has hit out at the prime minister over his comments that western democracy is an alien concept to indigenous Fijians.

Laisenia Qarase told a Commonwealth parliamentarians workshop this week that indigenous Fijians have a hierarchical social structure in which chiefs are at the apex, and the rest have a communal function.

Mr Chaudhry says the prime minister is using the Commonwealth meeting to push his own political agenda which he says has always been race-based along the lines of apartheid South Africa.

Mr Chaudhry says Mr Qarase has used the race card from his first day in office and more recently has proposed the Reconciliation and Unity Bill to advance his own warped political agenda.

He says fortunately the Commonwealth parliamentarians currently in Fiji are well-versed with the rule of law... and understand its importance in the current international landscape, which is shaping a response to racial and ethnic conflicts.

Mr Chaudhry says Fiji cannot shirk its responsibilities to international law under the guise of different sets of rules for different peoples in society.