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Justice First, Reconciliation Later

Justice First, Reconciliation Later, Says Nailatikau

Issue No: 307 20 December 2000

The regime's Minister for Fijian Affairs and the Deputy Prime Minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has condemned people who claim that reconciliation must come before justice.

Today's Daily Post reports that Nailatikau stated that people who are crying out for reconciliation and forgiveness are the ones who performed "dirty deeds" since May 19 and brought about havoc in the country. He stated: "Unadulterated greed and the unbelievable arrogance as was shamelessly displayed by chiefs and people alike on May 19 will not bring about paramountcy [of ethnic Fijians] in this day and age".

Only recently regime's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase had given a speech to the Tourism Forum where he called extensively for reconciliation. Many believe that Nailatikau, who is a Baun high chief and son in law of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, and whose wife, Adi Koila, was held a hostage by the terrorists, was referring to the interim regime prime minister when he made the damning statements. Qarase had stated at the Tourism Forum: "I am concerned at the response of those who have turned their faces against taking the first steps to our national deliverance. They either reject reconciliation outright, or argue that it is all too soon. Justice, they say, must be done before peacemaking begins. Well, with respect, I say that reconciliation is indispensable to the healing of Fiji. Without it we are lost. There can be no justification for delaying the process of forgiveness and seeking to establish better understanding and trust. And let us not forget that reconciliation and justice - in all its forms - are not mutually exclusive. They go together."

Earlier Qarase's Permanent Secretary for Reconciliation, Jeremaia Waqanisau had condemned the investigation into the terrorist activities as a hindrance to reconciliation.

The Nailatikau statement is a string of recent expressions of discontent of the Qarase cabinet members at the conduct of some in the Qarase cabinet.

End 20 December 2000


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