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Fiji: Blueprint Won't Work, Says Baba

USP Pacific Journalism Online: USP Journalism on the Fiji crisis (UTS host): USP Pasifik Nius stories on Scoop (NZ): Have your say:

By Mithleshni Gurdayal

USP Journalism Graduate on the Daily Post

SUVA: While interim Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's blueprint is seen as a "bible" by many high chiefs, ousted Deputy Prime Minister Dr Tupeni Baba in the elected Chaudhry government thinks the document will only assist elite Fijians and not ordinary Fijians.

Dr Baba said such programmes had been put in place before and only a handful of Fijians had benefited.

The document will do very little to the lot of the ordinary Fijians, who live in villages, housing estates and those who are civil servants like police, nurses and other government workers," Mr Baba said.

"These are the kinds of promises the coup leader of the 1987 military coups [Sitiveni Rabuka] made to the ordinary Fijians and we all know that the living standards of these ordinary Fijians haven't improved over the years."

Dr Baba accepted that indigenous Fijians had grievances which needed to be looked at urgently.

However, he pointed out that some grievances were based on misinformation and lies and therefore needed to be substantiated.

"If there are genuine cases where Fijians strongly feel that they are being discriminated against then of course they need to be looked into."

Dr Baba said that people's grievances should not be used as a catalyst to bring about changes to the existing constitution.

"There are so many other ways of dealing with grievances and surely getting rid of the constitution is not the answer."

Dr Baba said the interim administration had not been able to explain to the public ways in which the 1997 constitution had failed.

"Mr Qarase hasn't fully told us where the 1997 constitution went wrong. All he said is about provisions on affirmative action but those provisions have been catered for in the social justice and affirmative action sections of the constitution.

"Then there is chapter 2 - the compact, which clearly outlines special provisions for indigenous Fijians," Dr Baba said.

"The interim administration is living with the assumptions of coup-maker George Speight that the 1997 constitution was discriminatory against the Fijians."

Dr Baba said the only way forward for Fiji was a government of national unity.


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