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By Maika Bolatiki

SUVA, Fiji (The FijiSUN, Oct. 5) - The absence of Fiji Labor Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry from yesterday’s traditional apology was a slap in the face for the Fijian chiefs who offered the apology on behalf of the indigenous people.

However, Naitasiri chief Ro Seru Tuisese reminded the FLP leader that the indigenous people cared for him and his followers who had boycotted the Fiji Week celebration, which started yesterday.

The chairman of the Naitasiri Provincial Council said it was very unfortunate that Mr Chaudhry was not present when the indigenous people traditionally presented their apology.

He said the delegation was made up of chiefs and the very people who were involved in the political instability of 2000.

However, Mr Chaudhry said it was not a slap in anyone’s face because the Fiji Labor Party had indicated a long time ago that it was not ready for reconciliation.

He said the move was clearly orchestrated by the Government and the FLP would not be fooled.

"We have made this very clear," he said.

Ro Seru said he knew the FLP leader was deeply affected by the 2000 upheaval, especially when his leadership was forcefully taken away from him. However, he said he should have known of the Fijian way of life and should have been at Albert Park to witness the traditional ceremony of apology.

He said no matter what, the Fijians had done their part and the President had accepted the presentation. The chiefs who were part of the ceremony yesterday had played a major role in the negotiation of the release of Mr Chaudhry and his group from parliament where they were held hostage.

Ro Seru admitted many people from Naitasiri were in parliament but they had left behind everything and wanted to work hand in hand with their Indian brothers and sisters to make Fiji a real multiracial and multicultural country.

He said for the Fijian people yesterday’s ceremony was unique and after it was accepted by the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, they knew they had cleared a hurdle that had hampered unity between the two major races.

Ro Seru said the people of Naitasiri strongly support the theme of the Fiji Week and had urged all people to put aside their differences and be united to make the week-long program a very successful one.

He said they had already started reconciliation within the province.

October 5, 2004




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