FIJI’S DRUAVESI ACCUSES PRIME MINISTER CHAUDHRY OF MEDDLING WITHFIJIANS

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FIJI’S DRUAVESI ACCUSES PRIME MINISTER CHAUDHRY OF MEDDLING WITH FIJIANS

SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 3, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---The Opposition spokesperson, Ema Drauvesi, has accused the Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, of interfering with the rights and traditions of the indigenous Fijians and also called him a liar.

In a press statement, Ms. Drauvesi said Mr. Chaudhry's arrogance in lying to Keiyasi villagers that his government will never interfere with rights and traditions of the Fijians, was insulting and must be condemned with the strongest terms.

She said Mr. Chaudhry's attitude in manipulating Fijians in rural areas by unashamedly lying in their faces portrays him as insensitive and directly insulting their intelligence.

"Government's 2000 budget gave Indian cane farmers F$ 20 million for all leases expiring under ALTA (F$ 28,000 per farmer) and yet there is not a single cent allocated to Fijian landowners, including landowners of Keiyasi Village whose lands are leased out to Indian tenants," Ms. Drauvesi said.

She said Indians are replacing Fijians in statutory organizations, citing the Housing Authority as an example.

"If the Prime Minister really and honestly wants to help Fijians, then do what Hon. Yabaki said in Parliament, that government allocate F$ 88 million to all the 14 provinces for their development," Ms. Druavesi said.

In reply to the above accusations, the Prime Minister's private secretary, Rajendra Chaudhry, said government has never interfered with the rights of the indigenous people, as their rights are firmly entrenched in the Constitution.

Mr. Chaudhry said if Ms. Drauvesi feels there is a breach of Fijian rights and traditions, she and others like her are most welcome to seek judicial redress.

He said the F$ 20 million allocated is not just for Fijian farmers but is for all evicted tenants.

"Contrary to Ms. Druavesi's accusations, Cabinet has approved funds for assisting landowners who will choose to farm the land themselves," Mr. Chaudhry said.

He said the Housing Authority chief executive herself resigned and so there was no question of her being replaced by an Indian.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijlive.

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