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Indo-Fijians Told: 'Don't Be Puppets Of Regime'

SUVA: Fiji cane grower union leaders have warned Indo-Fijians to refuse to serve as "puppets" of the proposed civilian administration being worked out by the military regime in cooperation with rebel leader George Speight.

"Indians should not serve on the military-appointed interim government, considering the objectives of the coup to marginalise the Indo-Fijian community," said general secretary Jaganath Sami of the Fiji Cane Growers' Association.

He said that Indians invited to serve would be only puppets in an indigenous Fijian-dominated intertim government.

Two Indo-Fijians have been named in a leaked list of the military's planned government - the president of the Fiji chapter of Transparency International, Ikbal Jannif (education portfolio) and Thomas Raju (trade and commerce).

But Speight was quoted on Radio Fiji today as saying he had changed his mind and that he now again opposed non-indigenous Fijians in the administration.

Sami said the presence of Indo-Fijians would be "purely window-dressing" to show the world that they were represented in the interim government to gain international recognition and support.

The union believed that Indo-Fijians who were sincerely concerned about the future welfare and security of the community should not allow themselves to be used as "pawns to legitimise the unlawful and unconstitutional" actions of players in the political crisis, Sami said.

He said the military should appoint an all-indigenous Fijian interim government, seek immediate release of the 31 hostages held in Parliament and allow the elected Indo-Fijian leaders the freedom to decide the future for their own people.

Meanwhile, the Daily Post reported today that a mass resignation of teachers was expected as a result of the month-old political crisis.

Fiji Teachers Union general secretary Agni Deo Singh said many teachers, especially those teaching in secondary schools, had been making arrangements to leave the country.

"Many secondary school teachers will be resigning and we will be left with a shortage of teachers in the near future," Singh said.

The Fiji Times reported that civil servants faced a 20 per cent pay cut from August 1.

A spokesman for the regime said resistance by public sector unions would not deter it from implementing the salary cut.

Public Service Commission secretary Anare Jale said the pay cut was the "best option" for the service, the Fiji Times reported.

Jale added that if the economy deteriorated further the interim government would consider redundancies.


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