NEW FIJI PARTY SEEKS ETHNIC UNITY

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By Maika Bolatiki

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Feb. 1) – Unlike the Alliance Party, which comprised the Fijian Alliance Party, Indian Alliance Party and the General Voters Alliance Party, members of the newly formed National Alliance Party of Fiji (NAPF) will all be equal, organizers say.

NAPF interim president Ratu Epeli Ganilau said the party would accept membership as equal and race would not be a political element.

"You can see from the membership that the NAPF stands for multiracialism," said Ratu Epeli in an interview yesterday.

The former Bose Levu Vakaturaga chairman also denied that the NAPF was formed as a result of his removal from the chairmanship, as many had claimed.

Ratu Epeli admitted that he was a nationalist but not an extreme nationalist like those he joined in the Veitokani Lewenivanua Vakarisito (VLV) in the 2001 general elections. He said while he treasured Fijian beliefs there was also a place for other ethnic groups’ beliefs and these must be respected.

The NAPF has been gazetted and will be officially recognized after the objection period ends on Friday.

Ratu Epeli said the party had agreed on the saqamoli as its symbol.

He said the politics of race should be removed if Fiji wanted to move forward. This could only be achieved through good leadership in the country.

Ratu Epeli said the political divide had worsened with the two major political parties, the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua and the Fiji Labor Party, going their own ways in promoting unity.

"How can the people unite when the two party leaders are divided over racial issues?" asked Ratu Epeli.

The NAPF, he said, would bring in changes to the country if elected to govern after the 2006 general election.

The party had the support of all races including prominent Fijian chiefs, said Ratu Epeli.. Ratu Epeli said the official launch of the new party would take place soon after it had been formally registered and only be then would the party manifesto would be officially released.

He promised it would be full of surprises as it would be for all the people in Fiji.

The interim management team consists of Ratu Epeli Ganilau - interim president, Manu Korovulavula - interim treasurer and Meli Waqa as interim secretary. Nominations for these positions would be invited soon after the party’s registration.

February 1, 2005

FijiSUN: http://www.sun.com.fj/

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