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SUVA, Fiji Islands (December 20, 2000 – Fiji’s Daily Post)---It will take time, patience and sensitivity for the two mainstream communities in Fiji to achieve true reconciliation, says the delegation from the Carter Center of the United States of America.

The delegation, which is in the country to assess political developments, yesterday stressed that "dialogue between the key parties will help restore stability and democracy in Fiji."

Members of the delegation said that patience, understanding and sensitivity were necessary elements to build a new relationship between the indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians.

"Dialogue and efforts by the key parties, the Great Council of Chiefs, the Interim Administration and the deposed government are necessary to reach a working arrangement that will give Fiji stability and hope," they said.

"Fiji needs a political solution to its political problem. Both immediate measures and long term efforts are needed to stabilize the country and reduce fear and uncertainty to build a form of democracy that is suited to Fiji, to restore the economy and heal relations between the indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians."

They said that as far as achieving reconciliation was concerned, both groups have to accept that both sides have affected each other in some way.

"Reconciliation happens when a relationship between two communities is torn. And when that happens it needs time for healing, a recognition that harm is done, perhaps an apology for the harm that was done, most likely compensation for the loss that was suffered. But it is not just a money matter... it takes time, sincerity and in a bruised situation that we have here in Fiji, almost everyone feels a degree of having been offended and hurt. So reconciliation in Fiji is possible if only both groups work with patience, sensitivity and a much more fully developed approach," the center’s Director of Conflict Resolution Dr. Ben Hoffman said.

"I think that you would be looking at some years of effort to truly reconcile and build a vision that is enjoyed by everyone in Fiji... what will be the new relationship and where do we go from there?"

On democracy, the center representatives said every group they met showed they want democracy back in the country.

"Having an elected government in Fiji seems to be a view shared by all people," they said.

Members of the delegation have met with Interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, members of the deposed government, trade unions and all different political and cultural groups as well as ordinary citizens.

They welcome opportunities to provide assistance in helping design resolutions on peace, justice and prosperity.

The center was established by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, especially to assist troubled countries by providing peace programs.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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