Staff Reporters Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 7, 2001 -- Wansolwara Online/Pasifik Nius)---Bury the hatchet and heal the wounds of Fiji. This is the message to the rival prime ministers by a leading University of the South Pacific academic after Fiji's election.

Professor Vijay Naidu, Director of the Center for Development Studies, said today that far from bringing the country together after last year's attempted coup, the election had "exposed and reinforced" deep divisions in Fiji society.

While the Soqosoqo Dauvata ni Lewenivanua of caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase consolidated its hold on Parliament with 31 seats without an outright majority, both his SDL and deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry's Labour Party continued to negotiate with smaller parties and independents in an attempt to form a coalition.

At the close of counting, Labour had 27 seats and the extreme nationalist Conservative Alliance/Matanitu Vanua held the balance of power with six seats.

"It would be a profound irony if CAMV were to hold the balance of power in any governing coalition," wrote Professor Naidu in a two-page analysis of the election in the Fiji Sun.

"Do the people of Fiji want to reward those responsible for the atrocities, the bloodshed, the displaced families, the downturn in the country's economy and the loss of jobs with political leadership?

"The best way forward is for Chaudhry and Qarase to bury the hatchet, reconcile, heal the wounds of Fiji and together lead us forward.

"The election is over. The 1997 constitution urges the politics of partnership and cooperation over adversarial politics. Can they rise to the challenge?"

Two early trends emerged out of the election, Professor Naidu said.

First, moderate leaders and their parties had been swept aside by people disposed to more extreme positions.

Second, there was a consolidation of ethnic support.

Professor Naidu said that if one of the two major parties chose not to cooperate and remain in opposition, the likelihood of returning Fiji to "some semblance of political stability" within a democratic framework may become remote.

This had implications for economic growth, employment generation and social policy, including affirmative action programs.

Title -- 3405 POLITICS: 'Bury the hatchet' plea for Fiji to Qarase, Chaudhry Date -- 7 September 2001 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Wansolwara Online, 7/9/1 Copyright -- USP Journalism Status -- Unabridged

USP Pacific Journalism Online: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/  USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): http://www.journalism.uts.edu.au/  USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): http://www.scoop.co.nz/international.htm  Have your say: http://www.TheGuestBook.com/vgbook/109497.gbook 

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