1 Aug 2002

Fiji women's group wants minister Caucau to resign

4:42 pm on 1 August 2002

The Fiji Women's Crisis Centre has called for the immediate resignation of the minister for women and social welfare, Adi Asenaca Caucau.

And its has called on all women's organisations in Fiji to support its demand.

It follows a statement by the minister in parliament this week likening Indo-Fijians to wild weeds which take up too much space in the country.

Crisis centre co-ordinator, Shamima Ali, says women's groups have struggled to rebuild bridges and encourage true reconciliation in the country since the coups and it was discouraging when the minister encouraged divisions and distrust.

Ms Ali says Adi Asenaca is there as minister for women, social welfare and poverty alleviation and her ministry should be catering for all the disadvantaged in the country, and not just some as her comments imply.

Ms Ali says such statements only serve to incite racist sentiments and raise questions about the protection of human rights in Fiji.

She says the statement deserves a public apology and the minister's immediate resignation.

Ms Ali has asked the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, to reassure the people that the statement is not the government's view.

But Mr Qarase has defended the remarks by Ms Caucau and also the minister for public enterprises, Irami Matairavula, who said Indians should go back to cane farming.

The prime minister has told parliament that what the two ,ministers said was their right and privilege and he would respect that.