20 Aug 2002

Fiji prime Minister says ethnic divide is wider than ever

10:50 am on 20 August 2002

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says the racial divide between the two major ethnic groups in the country at present is the widest in the country's history.

Mr Qarase says this "gulf" would only narrow if indigenous Fijians run the country and Indo-Fijians accept things as they are.

A Daily Post report quotes the prime minister as saying that loss of leadership represents to indigenous Fijians a danger to their heritage as the indigenous community.

They point out that Fiji has enjoyed stability, peace and progress under governments led by indigenous Fijians.

Mr Qarase says the Indo-Fijian population work hard, pay their taxes and have constitutional rights, so they aspire to national leadership and see control of the government as their democratic birthright.

He says stakeholders have to deal with the fact that there is little or no political integration between indigenous and Indo-Fijians.

Mr Qarase says politics has become a never-ending struggle between the two communities for control of the government.