9 Sep 2005

Commonwealth leader says Fiji opposition leader didn't verbally ask him to probe government

1:06 pm on 9 September 2005

The Commonwealth Secretary-General says Fiji's opposition leader didn't ask him in person to investigate Fiji over the government's draft amnesty law.

Don McKinnon says Mahendra Chaudhry wrote him a letter asking him to putting the Fiji government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group agenda.

But Mr McKinnon says his recent talks with Mr Chaudhry in Fiji didn't go that far.

He says he's talked to many people in Fiji about the Bill, but he emphasises the document is not yet law and the parliamentary process must continue.

"We are prepared to say, 'Look, this is all part of the process'; the important part is that the government listen to what the people say, and not allow it to become a divisive measure, in a society, which you know, can be quite easily divided."

Mahendra Chaudhry says the emphasis on race and difference of culture, religion and place of origin in the political discourse in Fiji is a colonial heritage that the government has not done much to tone down.