23 Mar 2006

Former Fiji deputy PM Baba calls for end to race politics

3:33 pm on 23 March 2006

One of the founders of the Fiji Labour Party - re-entering politics on the opposite side - says the country needs to break its coup culture.

Dr Tupeni Baba claims he was head-hunted by the ruling SDL party to stand as a candidate in the general election after returning from New Zealand, where he was a research fellow at Auckland University.

The selection of the former deputy prime minister in the pre-coup Labour coalition government is being questioned within the SDL.

But he says he's switched allegiance because Labour's politics are too negative.

"We need to break the corner of racial politics, we need to break the coup culture, we need to create a democratic system that is transparent so that we can move the economy so that we can improve social conditions of our people."

Dr Baba had fallen out with the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, after the coup and formed the New Labour Unity Party, which lost the 2001 general election.