27 Sep 2004

Former Fiji PM questions offer of apology from coup front man

7:32 am on 27 September 2004

The Fiji Labour Party leader and deposed prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, says he will not forgive the coup front man, George Speight.

Mr Chaudhry's answer was in response to efforts by the Ministry of Reconciliation to get Speight and his co-coup convicts, Timoci Silatolu and Josefa Nata, to apologise personally to the parliamentarians they held hostage for 56 days.

Mr Chaudhry has told the Fiji Times the move is suspicious coming from a government with little desire for national reconciliation in its policies and legislative measures.

He says the move is motivated by a political agenda and is an exercise in mitigation for those recently convicted of complicity in the terrorist overthrow of a democratically elected government.

Mr Chaudhry says "the government includes nationalist hard-liners in the cabinet, has them appointed to the Senate and sends them as heads of Fiji's overseas missions. - all a slap in the face of national reconciliation."

He says genuine reconciliation can only be achieved if restorative justice is granted to those who suffered during the coup.

Mr Chaudhry says there has been no state assistance to the business community, which suffered from rioting and looting, and the scores of farmers in many parts of Fiji who were terrorised with their properties plundered, burnt and destroyed.

Mr Chaudhry says the government could not be serious about reconciliation because it continues to practice blatant discrimination against Fiji Indians.