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God Chose Me, Says Fiji PM

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SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase told Parliament last night he believed God ended the term of the Labour-led Peoples' Coalition Government in 2000, the Fiji Sun reports.

Qarase was contributing to a debate on a motion by Labour MP Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi asking Parliament to approve a judicial inquiry into the F$25 million agriculture assistance scam. The motion was later defeated by six votes.

Qarase said his government was in power because it was the will of God.

Denouncing the statement, the Sun said in an editorial: "We thought that we had gone past those days when our leaders would harp about how they were chosen by God and that justified all they did."

The newspaper appeared to be referring to a claim, also in God's name, by Sitiveni Rabuka after the first coup in May 1987.

"Politicians should stick with politics and never mix their arguments with religion," the Sun said.

The newspaper said that Qarase's comments implied that it was right to carry out coups and mismanage public money.

Qarase told Parliament: "The SDL coalition won because it was God's plan.

"The events of May 2000 happened because of God's plan.

"I believe God wanted to terminate that government.

"The same thing will happen to us if we don't follow God's plan."

Qarase strongly rejected accusations by the Fiji Labour Party that his Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party had implemented the agricultural assistance scheme to buy votes during the general election.

He said when the SDL party was formed in May 2000, no member of the interim government that were in his party intended to stand in a general election.

The SDL leader said the party spent F$260,000 campaigning last year and "not one cent came from this agricultural scheme".

He said party supporters and candidates had contributed to the party's campaign.

Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry had earlier highlighted the numerous occasions on which government members invoked Bible verses while contributing to the debate, saying "the Devil can also quote from the Bible".

Labour MP Dr Ganesh Chand also highlighted the "constant invocation of the Bible to defend corruption", saying no religion would condone the abuse of public funds.

This was tantamount to blasphemy, Dr Chand said.


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