CALL FOR MORATORIUM ON INDO-FIJIAN EVICTIONS

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 10, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's former opposition leader, Prem Singh, has called for a moratorium on the eviction of Indo-Fijians from indigenous lands.

This follows the eviction by landowners of a family of 42 from its rented property.

Mr. Singh says he has made urgent requests to the prime minister and the Native Land Trust Board to address the issue.

Radio Australia Fiji correspondent Mika Loga reports.

"Prem Singh, who was recently removed as opposition leader, says evictions of Indo-Fijian farmers from indigenous lands increased after the 1999 general election, which was won by deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry’s party.

"Mr. Singh says Mr. Chaudhry’s Fiji Labour Party and Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's government must explain the increase.

"Mr. Singh says a moratorium would prevent further pain and misery for tenants, their families, their children and those who work on the farms to earn a living.

"Mr. Singh added, an agreement between the stakeholders to temporarily stop the evictions, would also give time for the ailing sugar industry to reorganize itself.

"He says the expiry of the controversial Agricultural Landlord and Tenants Act leases has caused a decline in sugar production, which is still the country's main foreign revenue earner.

"Mika Loga, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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