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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 30, 2002 - Fiji Times/Pasifik Nius)---The Fiji Times today praised former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka for condemning the country's economic blueprint, saying that as handouts dried up, national disillusionment would set in.

The newspaper warned Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's government that it should heed the lessons of history and not repeat past economic mistakes.

It said Rabuka - "the founder of the coup culture" - had come full circle in his political career.

"The man who toppled the government of Dr. Timoci Bavadra in 1987 in favor of Fijian supremacy yesterday openly criticized the present government's blueprint, which aims to promote ethnic Fijians," the Fiji Times said in an editorial.

"Mr. Rabuka has seen blueprints before. Indeed the present day policy differs from his 1987 approach only in scale and scope.

"Mr. Rabuka has learned that it won't work. He has learned the hard lesson of experience, a harsh but thorough teacher.

"The handout approach will benefit only those who need the help. And it will not bring the races together.

"The blueprint will do little for the village people despite the best of intentions," the paper said.

"Experience has shown Mr. Rabuka - and much of the nation - that it just won't work.

"The elite will benefit greatly while the poor will benefit minutely - if at all."

In the meantime, said the Fiji Times, the nation would spend large sums of money to learn the same lesson twice.

"Mr. Rabuka's policies did little to improve the lot of the average Fijians. That's why they turned their backs on his party in 1999.

"Mr. Qarase's SDL risks the same fate, despite its well-intentioned commitment to raise the standard of living of the average Fijian.

"As the handouts dry up, the disillusionment will set in."

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