12 Sep 2005

Mahendra Chaudhry seeks Indian backing for his opposition to Fiji's reconciliation and unity bill

8:11 pm on 12 September 2005

Fiji's opposition leader has taken his objections to the government's controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill to India's top political leaders.

Mahendra Chaudhry says he has briefed the Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh, the external affairs minister Natwar Singh, the opposition leader L K Advani and the former prime minister, Atal Bihari Bajpai.

Mr Chaudhry says the Indian prime minister has promised to raise concerns about the Bill with his Fiji counterpart when Laisenia Qarase makes an official visit to India next month to open the Fiji high commission in New Delhi.

Mr Qarase says Mr Chaudhry can go and lobby internationally on the Bill but no foreign country has a right to interfere in Fiji's internal political matters.

But Mr Chaudhry says the Bill violates international norms on human rights, subverts the rule of law and is effectively a state-endorsed licence for terrorism.

He says as such it is not an internal matter but a matter for the international community.