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Qarase Criticises Mara, Rabuka Performance

Issue No: 145; 24 October 2000

Interim regime Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase has condemned the performance of the Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara and Sitiveni Rabuka governments for their failure to uplift the indigenous Fijians in the country.

In a press statement released today, Qarase stated that the indigenous Fijians "have been marginalised in economic and social development opportunities and benefits".

While Qarase did not elaborate on this statement, it is clear that if indeed the indigenous Fijians have been marginalised in Fiji then the blame lay squarely on the shoulders on Mara and Rabuka, who led Fiji for 29 out of its 30 year post-independence history. Mara took the helm in 1970, continued to 1987, and then again took charge in 1989 and continued to 1992. Rabuka was in control briefly in 1987, and from 1992 to 1999.

Qarase made the statement while attacking the Commonwealth Secretary-General who referred to Fiji as a kid in the Commonwealth family of nations.

It now remains to be seen whether Mara and Rabuka would respond to the harshest criticism of their performance by the interim regime so far. It is understood that Qarase had the approval of Mara for the interim PMship.


Regime wants 20 year plan for racial supremacy

Issue No: 144; 24 October 2000

The Qarase regime is developing a 20-year plan for enhancing the status of the indigenous Fijians in Fiji.

A statement from the regime said that the plan will be based on the Qarase Blueprint for Fijian Development, which the regime says is for "the protection and advancement of indigenous Fijians and Rotumans", and which "seeks to safeguard the paramountcy of indigenous interests as well as improving and enhancing opportunities, amenities and services for Fijians and Rotumans in their development and participation."

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Samoa Express Support for Democracy

Issue No: 143; 24 October 2000

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs in the People's Coalition Government, Dr Tupeni Baba and Ratu Isireli Vuibau (Assistant Minister for Fijian Affairs) returned to Fiji following a successful and fruitful visit to Samoa.

Dr Baba held discussions with the Samoan Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi and his officials on Friday. The discussions focused on the possibility of Forum's engagement in assisting to bring about a resolution of the crisis in Fiji.

Dr Baba briefed the Prime Minister about recent developments in Fiji. He stressed the importance of reinstating the 1997 Constitution and finding a political solution to the crisis consistent with its provisions.

He also discussed the imposition of a constitution review process by the Interim Regime and said that the "process lacked both credibility and legitimacy and that it could not lead to a legitimate constitutional outcome".

The Samoan Prime Minister and officials of the Government received his presentation very positively. The Samoan Prime Minister accepted that the reinstatement of the 1997 constitution provided the most principled and realistic way of resolving the Fiji crisis. He also expressed his concern about the long time frame that the Interim Administration had mapped for the return of constitutional government.

Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi informed Dr Baba that he would raise the matter at the Forum Heads of Government meeting next week and request the Forum to assist Fiji in finding a speedy and constitutional settlement to its crisis.

Samoan Government, the Prime Minister stressed was deeply concerned with the security situation in Fiji. The Prime Minister reminded Dr Baba that Samoan students had not returned to USP because of their continuing concerns about security and law and order.

Dr Baba and Mr Vuibau had a stopover of several hours in Tonga on their way to Samoa. During this stopover, they were met by Tongan Government officials, including its Attorney General Hon. Tevita Tupou and the Minister for Works Hon. Cecil Cocker and briefed them about developments in Fiji.

Dr Baba has communicated to all the Forum Heads of Government's about the possible framework for Forum's engagement in resolving the crisis in Fiji and similar crisis in FIC's in future. He will be holding further discussions on this framework prior to the Heads of Governments' meeting.


Health system on road to total collapse

Issue No: 142; 24 October 2000

The county's health system has virtually collapsed just months after the terrorists struck Fiji.

Two out of the three major government hospitals - the Lautoka and the Labasa Divisional Hospitals - have reported reductions in their budgets and doctor shortage.

The Labasa Hospital has cancelled all outpatient services except for accident and emergency services. Labasa's Medical Superintendent, Dr. Esala Nainoca told today's Fiji Sun (24 Oct) that this was because of doctor shortage. He said that the hospital requires 36 doctors but it had only 20 doctors. Its outpatient unit requires 10 doctors but it has only 4. He said that the shortage of doctors placed risks on the lives of the patients. The crisis has come to a level where it is virtually impossible to run the outpatient department, he said.

The interim regime is planning to recruit doctors from Philippines.

The Lautoka Hospital also suffers from severe doctor shortage. The hospital needs 84 doctors, but was operating with only 54 each working between 75-80 hours per week. The hospital also reports a reduction in its maintenance budget. This means that the regime has withdrawn funds which the Peoples Coalition Government had allocated to the Hospital. Hospital's superintendent, Dr. Yogesh Narain told yesterday's Fiji Times that the reduction could place patients at serious risk.

Meanwhile, the regime has decided to spend $120,000 to purchase a new Toyota Landcruiser for the constitutionally appointed President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara. Mara has not yet asked for the vehicle. The regime stated earlier that if he did not need the vehicle, then it would go to the regime's vehicle pool.


Collapse of Sugar Industry Likely

Issue No: 141; 24 October 2000

Fiji's sugar industry will collapse, says the elected Prime Minister of Fiji, Mahendra Chaudhry.

He said that the attitude of the Native Lands Trust Board towards the cane farmers has severely affected the confidence of the farmers in the industry. This will lead to the collapse of the industry within the next few years, warned Chaudhry.

He made the comments after he visited the farmers evicted by the NLTB in Vanua Levu. He said that the Labasa mill faced closure by 2002 if the NLTB continued with its activities.

Hundreds of farmers in Vanua Levu, and hundreds more in Viti Levu risk eviction from their farms by the NLTB which wants the landowners to take over cane farming. This is despite a majority of the landowners opting for their land to continue to be leased out to the existing tenants. Chaudhry said that farmers are being threatened with violence. He said no community should be expected to put up with such inhumane treatment.


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