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Radio Australia Asia Pacific Melbourne, Australia August 1, 2001

Fiji’s deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry says Fijians are ready to accept an Indian as a prime minister.

Mr. Chaudhry will lead the Labour Party during elections which commence later this month, and his government will be open, fair and would pick up from where it left at the time of last year’s coup, he said.

He still expects to be appointed as Prime Minister, should he win an electoral mandate.

Presenter/Interviewer: Clement Paligaru

Speaker: Former Fiji Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry

Chaudhry: "If we have the mandate, yes. If the Labour Party wins the election, yes. Not to do so would succumb to the forces of racism and terrorism."

Paligaru: There are a lot messages going out there by the different political parties, there’s reconciliation, there’s unity, that’s coming from all sides at the moment. What are your views on the sincerity of those messages?

Chaudhry: "I welcome such messages. They’re a positive sign and I think those who are sending those messages out to the people should be honest and sincere about that. The nation needs to get together again and that’s the only way forward and I hope they’re sincere. We certainly are ourselves."

Paligaru: If the people do vote you back, how confident are you that the military, the judiciary, the president will support this mandate of the people and bring you back into office?

Chaudhry: "The military and the president’s office have already issued statements on this. This was done last week, saying that they will accept the results of the elections and they’ve advised the people also to do the same. So we’ll take them on that assurance and that’s all we need. If the president’s office and the military are sure about doing it that way that’s all we need.

Paligaru: The doctrine of necessity has been used a number of times by the High Court, by the judiciary, by the president justifying what they have done over the past year -- bringing in a caretaker government. How confident are you that if there are problems, these sorts of decisions won’t be resorted to again?

Chaudhry: I think the key there is in dealing with the people who create these kinds of problems. That is what should be done with some determination and with some zeal and the sooner the better. I don’t think it’s right to use the doctrine of necessity to justify acts of terrorism and impose unilateral governments on the people.

Paligaru: The man responsible...

Chaudhry: Your time’s up!

Paligaru: The man responsible for May 19, last year, George Speight, is also running. What do you think of that?

Chaudhry: "Well these sorts of things happen only in banana republics and really that has made us a laughing stock. I hope that we’ll be able to come to some kind of arrangement to see that we redeem our international reputation."

*The general election will take place August 25-September 1.

Title -- 3303 POLITICS: Fiji ready for Indian PM, says Chaudhry Date -- 2 August 2001 Byline -- Clement Paligaru Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- ABC's Asia Pacific broadcast, 1/8/1 Copyright -- ABC Status -- Unabridged

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