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August 24, 2000


India's Opposition leader Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has given elected Fijian Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry her total support. The two leaders met in India earlier this week where Mr. Chaudhry is a guest of the Indian Government.

Mrs. Gandhi told the People's Coalition leader that the international community has an obligation to put right the grave injustices that have been committed in the name of promoting indigenous rights in Fiji following the armed takeover of the Fiji parliament on May 19.

Calling for the full restoration of the People's Coalition Government Mrs. Gandhi argued that the 1997 Constitution had the full backing of the international community. She said that her Congress Party would urge governments and political parties across the world to apply sustained pressure on the interim authorities in Fiji including the use of sanctions.

Deeply concerned by the international repercussions of the Fijian crisis, Mrs. Gandhi said that the events in Fiji had allowed an outright terrorist action to take a whole government hostage, something that was abhorrent and offends the most basic of international principles on democracy and the rule of law.

The only basis of the legitimacy of the interim administration in Fiji she said "was the terrorist action of taking a government hostage." The interim administration must step down to allow constitutional government and processes to be upheld.

The international community, the Congress leader argued, has a "responsibility and obligation to deal with this crisis and must take firm action through the means available to it. This includes sanctions and international mediation."

Mrs. Gandhi said that she was appalled by the fact that the interim administration includes within its ranks people who took part in the criminal and unlawful activities including supporting the destabilization of a lawful and constitutional government. "Those who think they can get away with this are living in an era that is now long past."

Released by:

Dale Keeling Media Secretary (Overseas) Leader of the People's Coalition PO Box 78 Balmain, NSW, 2041 AUSTRALIA 

Ph: (61 2) 9810 1336 Mob: (61 0414) 806 784 Fax: (61 2) 9555 1252

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