SUVA, Fiji (May 1) – Candidates contesting the Fiji General Election have one thing in common – to be in power. To achieve that, certain political parties have focused their campaign on issues that will lead to a prosperous Fiji.

These parties have come up with ways of achieving that by wooing foreign investors to invest here, providing employment, free education, better health services, higher wages, good roads, solving the land issue and the list goes on and on.

Other political parties do not share that view and the focus of gaining victory is through racial issues. They champion the rights of the indigenous Fijians and fight for the amendment of the 1997 Constitution to secure the land and resources that belong to the indigenous Fijians.

As the general election comes up, every political party has begun to throw in their trump cards as they try to win more supporters. In a recent statement caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase pointed out that a repeat of the May 19, 2000 political upheaval looms if an Indo- Fijian becomes the country’s next Prime Minister.

Quickly, Army Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has rebuked the statement, indicating that it could instill fear on the people as they go to vote from next week.

Although, we appreciate the great work done by Bainimarama and the army in resurrecting the country from 2000 political crisis, we’ve got to be realistic about Qarase’s statement.

Are the indigenous people of this country ready to accept an Indo-Fijian to become the next Prime Minister? The nation saw what happened in 1987 when Sitiveni Rabuka, who was third-highest ranking officer at that time, forcibly took over from his military superiors to execute an illegal takeover against the Indian dominated government led by Dr. Timoci Bavadra.

In 2000, it was the nationalist movement that managed to convince the elite Counter Revolutionary Warfare Unit from the military institution to oust the Mahendra Chaudhry-led government.

What Qarase said should not be viewed negatively altogether but instead be appreciated because it is positive contribution towards national stability.

That country’s stability is only possible if an indigenous Fijian becomes the next Prime Minister and that is a fact.

Qarase is simply giving no guarantee that the events of 2000 could be repeated if the country’s leadership falls into the hands of a foreigner. In fact, he is issuing a warning that should be taken heed of. It has been proven historically and there is no sin in making such a stand.

May 2, 2006


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