FIJI PM RABUKA CALLED ARROGANT BY LABOUR PARTY

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 31, 1998 - Daily Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---The Fiji Labour Party says it is insensitive, arrogant and utterly irresponsible of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka to claim he has no regrets for the 1987 military coups, the Daily Post reports.

"Hasn't the man got the sense to see the immense damage he has done to the country?," said Labour Parliamentary Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

"If after 12 years he hasn't got the wisdom to realize the immeasurable suffering he has brought upon the people of this country, then he should not be prime minister."

He was reacting to statements attributed to Mr. Rabuka in New Zealand [about] the 1987 coups.

"Fiji is still struggling to recover from the devastating effects of the coups," Mr. Chaudhry said.

The Fijian people were worse off now than they were before 1987 with none of the so-called indigenous aspirations of the coup having been realized.

Crime had risen to alarming levels with Fiji having one of the highest per capita crime rates in the world.

Inflation was running at 8 percent while 35 percent of our people were living in poverty, [Mr. Chaudhry said].

Corruption was rife with the economy in serious trouble with no immediate prospects of a recovery in sight.

"A massive brain drain prompted by the coups has decimated the country of its skilled and experienced labor force leaving the health and education services, in particular, in shambles and race relations have been severely damaged by the coups," Mr. Chaudhry said.

"Is this the legacy of the coups that Mr. Rabuka is gloating about?" Mr. Chaudhry asked.

"Mr. Rabuka and some of his close associates may have benefited from the coups but the country as a whole has been retarded 20 years and it will take a long time for us to recover from the mess he created.

"If this is the sentiment he harbors, then there is no place for him in the future politics of this country. Such statements do not help the process of reconciliation and rehabilitation," Mr. Chaudhry said.

[NOTE: Mr. Chaudhry was a minister in the elected Bavadra government, deposed by Colonel Rabuka in May 1987 after just four weeks in office.]

Title -- 1781 POLITICS: Fiji Labour calls Rabuka 'arrogant' Date -- 31 October 1998 Byline -- None Origin -- niusedita@pactok.net.au" target="_blank">niusedita@pactok.net.au Source -- Daily Post (Fiji), 31/10/98 Copyright -- DP Status -- Unabridged This document is for educational and personal use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius: niusedita@pactok.net.au" target="_blank">niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/

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