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Rugby Man Wants Democracy In Fiji

Issue No: 918 6 July 2001

Sacked Fiji rugby coach, Greg Smith says Fiji must have a democratic government it it is to prosper.

Smith made the statement before he left Fiji after his sacking by the Fiji Rugby Board. Smith says that he was denied the permission to meet and say goodbye to his players as he was leaving Fiji. This prompted him to issue a written press statement addresses to the people of Fiji.

In the statement, Smith wrote:

"To the Nation, I send my sincere best wishes for the democratically run August election which will put in place a government that will restore the international communities confidence in your beautiful country."

Countries like Australia, New Zealand, UK, US and the European countries have, under their smart sanctions against Fiji, banned Fiji's sporting teams in participating in these countries national games until democracy is restored in the country. Fiji's rugby team had strongly criticised the bans.

Smith, a New Zealander, left Fiji at the start of July. He said his departure was a result "irreconcilable differences" on how the team was to be run. He stated: "The saddest moment for me came as I was about to leave Fiji on 29/06/01. I wanted to say goodbye to the players I had coached, to thank them for their growth as a team. I was denied this opportunity through the initiatives of a senior player who instructed the players not to attend the meeting. The lack of loyalty, the act of betrayal revealed a person that I had completely misjudged."

"To the players, I say goodbye I know that you will continue to develop and make the people of Fiji so proud of you."

"To all of my close friends in Fiji, I say thank you so much for the support you have given me."

"To the Nation, I send my sincere best wishes for the democratically run August election which will put in place a government that will restore the international communities confidence in your beautiful country."

After religion, rugby is the craze of the ethnic Fijian population of the country.

END Gregory Smith (1/7/01)


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