20 Jan 2006

Fiji's New Nationalist Party reverses stance on ethnic Indians

9:23 am on 20 January 2006

Fiji's New Nationalist Party has backtracked on its longstanding anti-Indian stand and says it wants ethnic Indian candidates to fight this year's general election.

The party's president, Saula Telawa, has told the Fiji Sun they have changed their stance towards Indians and now want to work together with them for a better future.

Mr Telawa says the founder of the Nationalist Party, the late Sakeasi Butadroka, had always demanded the expulsion of ethnic Indians from Fiji but the New Nationalist Party would depart from this policy.

However, he says Indian candidates applying for the party ticket would have to be born again Christians for more than three years who need a reference from their pastor and from the Fijian head of their district.

Mr Telawa says those who he describes as "foreigners" should respect indigenous rights and their god.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is quoted as saying the party is preparing for an early general election because he believes the prime minister could call it in May.