Issue No: 214; 21 November 2000
The interim regime Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase has asked the Churches "to plead for forgiveness from their people and for wrongs and sins committed with those who have been wronged or hurt."
Qarase made the comment while launching of regime's National Council for Reconciliation and Unity in Suva on 20 November.
Qarase said that he appreciated the "fact that we are children of God and that we should worship him ardently." He cited the three most important Christian commandments as love the Lord your God supremely, love your neighbour as you love yourself and love one another. He said if one lived by the above, one will not steal or speak evil of others, and will not harbour grudges against others nor would one be caught practising vindictiveness.
"Let us unite in championing the power of forgiveness and light. For with these in the hearts of people, there will be no place for evil thoughts, hatred and evil plans," he said.
In the same speech, Qarase stated that the regime was adamant in proceeding with implementing its Blueprint, which has been described the world over as highly racist and attempting to create an apartheid state in Fiji. He also stated that he will not step down from power despite the High Court ruling that the Qarase regime is illegal.
Qarase stated that reconciliation "means healing the sores caused by power struggle, selfishness, fear, ignorance, great economic disparity, injustice, lack of ability to distinguish between what is right and peace-oriented and what is wrong and animosity-oriented."
One retired journalist stated that Qarase read a speech written by his staff and did not mean a thing of what he said. "Those who saw him read", stated the journalist, "could clearly see he was uncomfortable with what he was saying". Qarase is the Minister for National Reconciliation.
Many non-Indigenous groups have rejected Qarase's reconciliation move and have claimed that he is not sincere. They state that the non-indigenous have nothing to reconcile for; it is those who terrorised the civilians and those who took away power from the democratically elected government who have much soul searching to do and reconcile for. The Hindu organizations have also rejected Qarase's invitation to be on the reconciliation committee for the same reason. The Fiji Muslim League, however, is represented on the Committee.
END 20 November 2000