9 Aug 2002

Fiji Labour Party blames withdrawal on government

10:42 am on 9 August 2002

The Fiji Labour Party has blamed the government for its withdrawal from informal talks on national issues scheduled for this weekend.

The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the government has not provided details of the NLTB's proposals on land leases and documents needed for discussion.

Mr Chaudhry has also blamed the damage done to race relations and the reconciliation process by the women's minister, Adi Aseneca Caucau, who said Indo-Fijians were like weeds who took up space.

He says the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has not helped by refusing to heed widespread calls by civil society to chastise ministers making racist remarks.

The Labour leader says it is not possible to engage in crucial talks if the other side chooses to malign and insult Indians and then expect to co-operation from their leaders to resolve important national issues.

Mr Chaudhry says another reason for their decisions is that the government has refused repeated calls to help thousands of displaced cane farmers who have been made virtually distitute.

He says the government must reciprocate on issues of concern to the Indo-Fijian community.