WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, June 30) - Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has highlighted racial differences between himself as an indigenous Fijian and the Labor Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry as an Indo-Fijian.

Qarase told Radio Fiji’s Fijian language program that for this reason, racial issues concerning their own people would always be paramount in the way the two political leaders lead.

His comment followed a statement by the National Federation Party calling on the two leaders to step aside if they could not resolve their differences.

Qarase said the NFP should look at how the economy has been growing since the coup to realize that his government means well for all the people of Fiji.

He said as an indigenous Fijian he wants to see all native land come under the Native Lands Act, whereas Chaudhry, as an Indo-Fijian leader, wants to retain the Agricultural Landlord and Tenant Act.

Qarase said although the differences are there, both he and Chaudhry are working hard through the "talanoa" talks and other means of dialogue to iron out some of the their differences.

He said he hopes they will find some common ground for a united Fiji.

July 1, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: 

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