FIJI’S JAI RAM REDDY ACCEPTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR NFP’S DEFEAT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 18, 1999 PACNEWS)---Fiji’s outgoing Opposition Leader, Jai Ram Reddy, has accepted full responsibility for his party’s humiliating defeat in the general election.

Reddy’s Indo-Fijian dominated National Federation Party (NFP) failed to secure a single seat in the 71-seat House of Representatives.

"Our defeat has been comprehensive. Naturally we are very disappointed with the result, but accept the verdict of the people with humility. The people have spoken and their will must now prevail," he said.

"There have been numerous commentaries and the reasons for our failure. I do not wish to dwell on those at this stage, suffice to say that as leader I accept full responsibility for this failure.

"To all our supporters and party workers, I’m sorry we did not succeed this time. But our cause was just, our vision correct, our commitment to genuine power-sharing absolute and our approach principle," he said.

Asked whether NFP’s coalition with former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s ruling SVT Party was responsible for their poor showing in the election, Reddy said, "We did what we thought was right for Fiji. We worked with Prime Minister Rabuka’s ruling SVT Party for a period for many years to secure the review of the new Constitution, and in that endeavour we received his full support, and the coalition with him was to us a logical extension of what we had been doing over a period of years."

"If our policies have failed, it was not that the policies were wrong. Maybe we did not sell them correctly, maybe people did not grasp it, and maybe people are not ready for that kind of multi-racialism, I don’t know. Maybe they are seeking revenge. However, I’m clear in my mind, despite what other commentators may say, that what we did was the right thing to do and I have no regrets at all."

Reddy also said Mahendra Chaudhry, the Leader of the Labour Party which won over half the seats in the House, should be appointed Prime Minister.

FIJI PRESIDENT MARA ACCEPTS PRIME MINISTER RABUKA’S RESIGNATION

SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 18, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has tendered his resignation following his party’s resounding loss in the general election.

Rabuka officially submitted his resignation to President Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara this morning. He told the President that the ruling Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei Party (SVT) and its coalition partners, the Indo-Fijian dominated National Federation Party and the minority United General Electors Party, failed to secure a majority in the 71-member House of Representatives.

He said that under the new Constitution he had to resign because his party does not have the majority number of seats to form a government.

The President accepted Rabuka’s resignation.

The SVT secured only eight seats in the general election. The Labour Party, led by Mahendra Chaudhry, won the majority number of seats with 37.

It has been reported the President will wait for Chaudhry to inform him about the Labour Party’s overwhelming victory and Chaudhry’s plans to form the new Government.

Labour’s coalition partners, the Fijian Association Party led by Adi Kuini Speed, and the Party of National Unity (PANU), won nine and four seats respectively.

Counting of votes for the last Fijian communal seat is still continuing.

The "People’s Coalition," as its commonly referred to, is expected to form the new Government by the end of the week.

The National Federation Party, led by Opposition Leader Jai Ram Reddy, failed to secure a single seat.

The newly formed Christian Democratic Alliance secured three seats. The Christian party’s prominent candidate, the former Commander of the Fiji Military Forces, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, failed to be elected.

The United General Party won two seats, while there are five new independents.

The right-wing Nationalists won two seats.

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