18 Dec 2002

Fiji Democrats say give the people control of their land

4:49 pm on 18 December 2002

The Fiji Democratic party says the only real solution to the country's land problems is to give indigenous owners the ownership title and the sole right to decide what to do with their land.

Radio Fiji quotes the party leader, Filipe Bole, as saying they are concerned that the land lease issue, especially the leases under the ALTA law continue to remain unresolved.

Mr Bole says his party finds it interesting that the Native Lands Trust Board is going out to the landowners to find what they want.

He says his party has just completed its own review of the land lease system in Fiji, in particular the leasing of Fijian land and the alienation of its control to the government.

The party believes the NLTB will find that the Fijians now wish the system to change so that they can decide for themselves what to do with their own land and end the colonial and patronizing attitude of the government.

Mr Bole says the anomalous situation in the law governing the ownership, control and alienation of antive land is discriminatory and insulting to native Fijian ownes who must assume control of their assets including their land.

He says the present situation is a major contributing factor to the confusion and uncertainty surrounding agricultural leases on native land.

The Democratic Party says Fiji would be the only country in the world where the ownership rights and control of land belonging to the majority indigenous population are in the hands of the government.