10 Oct 2005

Fiji celebrates 35 years of independence from Britain

12:05 pm on 10 October 2005

Fiji is observing the 35th anniversary of its independence today with calls to make it a better country in the future.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, who is in India on an official visit, says people should use the occasion to unite and reconcile, and forgive others.

The opposition leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says in the initial stages of independence the country moved forward but in the last 18 years its economic, social and political fabric has been shattered by three devastating coups.

Mr Chaudhry says Fiji has to make a choice between the wellbeing of its people or the continuing misery seen since in the coups.

The former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says in spite of its troublesome past, Fiji's people must remain confident that they can overcome the current hardships and setbacks.