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Mahendra Chaudhry Asks For New Elections

published 7 March 2001

Media release

Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and leaders of his partners in the People's Coalition Government met with acting President Ratu Josefa Iloilo this morning regarding the current political impasse in the country.

Mr Chaudhry was accompanied by Mr Ponipate Lesavua from the Party of National Unity, Mr Poseci Bune from the VLV and Mr Leo Smith representing General Voters Party. They presented their views to Ratu Josefa on the best way forward to return Fiji to constitutional rule following last week's Fiji Court of Appeal ruling.

"My advice to the acting President was given in my capacity as the constitutional and lawful Prime Minister of Fiji, and with the view that the Great Council of Chiefs meets on Thursday to discuss the situation in the country and to appoint a substantive President and Vice President," said Mr Chaudhry.

"In moving forward to resolve our constitutional crisis, we cannot forget that the nation has been through 10 months of painful and traumatic upheaval. Our people have suffered a lot. As a nation we are deeply divided and in the past few days we have seen the extent of the rift between and within political parties on the best way forward."

"This is not the time for political posturing or points scoring. The People's Coalition has therefore, following careful and wide consultations, decided that the national interest would best be served if we were to go for fresh elections."

"As the constitutional Prime Minister I have accordingly advised the President, in our meeting with him this morning, to dissolve Parliament and call fresh elections."

"It is our opinion that after many months of uncertainty and upheaval, the people should deliver a fresh mandate for the governance of the nation," Mr Chaudhry said.

"Some dissatisfaction has been expressed about the current alternative voting system. The People's Coalition has an open mind on this and is prepared to discuss changes to bring back the first past the post system."

"The nation has paid a very heavy price for something that should not have happened. The most urgent task facing us now is to engage urgently in a process of restitution, reconciliation and rebuilding," Mr Chaudhry said.

"The road to recovery will not be easy. It will require visionary leadership committed to serving the nation and uplifting the quality of life of all our people. We do not need self serving leaders who deliberately engage in a campaign of disinformation and divisive racial politics to pursue their own personal agendas and serve elitist interest groups at the expense of the poor and marginalized in our society".

"I hope Fiji has realised that the only way forward for a nation in a globalised world is to adhere to democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We must follow that path if we are to serve our people and restore our reputation with the international community as a law abiding nation," Mr Chaudhry said.

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