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Fijian leaders failed their people: Adi Kuini

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By Mithleshni Gurdayal

USP Journalism Graduate with the Sunday Post

SUVA: Indigenous Fijians have been deprived of a luxurious life by by their own people, says ousted Deputy Prime Minister and Fijian Affairs Minister Adi Kuini Vuikaba Speed.

In an exclusive interview yesterday, Adi Kuini said: "They have been used by wealthy people who have made the rich richer and the poor poorer."

Adi Kuini, the widow of Fiji's first Labour prime minister Dr Timoci Bavadra who was ousted in the 1987 military coups, has arrived home after nine months of extensive medical treatment in Canberra.

She agrees that grassroots Fijians have problems that need urgent attention.

While she agrees that the interim administration's blueprint will help change the lifestyle of indigenous Fijians, she says it has been tried over and over as a "guide" to uplift the lives of grassroots Fijians.

"But it has always vigorously failed," Adi Kuini said.

She said the blueprint is not a new document.

Adi Kuini stressed that people should not mistake it as a racist document.

"The coalition government was working on a similar plan to uplift the living standards of indigenous Fijians and it was one of our main objectives."

She said it was unfortunate for them, as they were not given the chance to complete their mission.

"I can't understand why some Fijians have overthrown the coalition government when it has just been in power for a year and was doing its best to work towards uplifting the Fijians' lives," she said.

"It is not that Fijians began suffering when Mahendra Chaudhry came to power, but it has to be noted that their problems have existed for years and when someone wanted to rescue them, they were cut off."

Adi Kuini has also called for a national referendum and requests the Laisenia Qarase-led interim government to consider the proposal for a government of national unity with the people's coalition.

She said it was appropriate for the interim government to work with the elected members, as they had the mandate of the people to rule.

"I am not saying that we go back to the original structure of the coalition government, but we can work with the concept of national unity that we had been advocating."

She said elected members had the legal as well as the moral right to rule the country.

"We know and understand the fact that the majority of our Fijians are burdened with poverty and are economically suffering but coups and destabilising a legitimately elected government would not help improve their lives."

She warned that people should stop using "race" to play political games, arguing that Fiji would only move forward if people of all communities put aside their racial differences and vowed to work together.

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