1987 FIJI INTERIM GOVERNMENT SAID TO HAVE BEEN STUNNED BY COMMONWEALTH OUSTER DECISION

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 16, 1999 - PACNEWS/Fiji Times)---Fiji's Foreign Minister Berenado Vunibobo says the Interim Government of 1987 was stunned when Fiji's membership in the Commonwealth was terminated following the two military coups.

He told a group of visiting Commonwealth Foundation Fellowship members that, compared to Fiji, there were other Commonwealth nations with worse human rights problems at the time. And, Vunibobo says, some European countries, namely Yugoslavia with its problems in Kosovo, have the gall to talk to Fiji about its record.

When asked by one of the fellows how Fiji was monitoring developments since the coups, Vunibobo said the Human Rights Commission, which is provided for under the new Constitution, is one of the monitoring devices.

The visiting Commonwealth Fellows, who are on a week-long visit, also met with Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

Rabuka told the group it was his hope that one day the ethnically different people of Fiji would one day see their individual cultural characteristics as part of the national make-up.

The Prime Minister said it is his dream that this phenomenon would materialize within three or four generations, when differences wold be seen as favorable rather than controversial in terms of nation building.

The Commonwealth group's visit to Fiji is part of a fellowship project to promote Commonwealth understanding.

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