UN seminar highlights concern in Fiji over ethnic segregation

Updated at 9:26 am on 10 April 2006

A United Nations sponsored seminar to draw up a People's Strategy for Peace, Stability and Development in Fiji has found that segregation along ethnic lines is a key concern.

According to a report in the Fiji Sun, the participants say segregation along ethnic lines can be seen in the institutions, structures, policies, and practices of the state.

As well, communal voting and polarization among political parties along ethnic lines reduces the ability of the legislature to go beyond ethnic interests when dealing with national concerns.

The participants say such segregation is a key obstacle to greater understanding between ethnic groups.

They have recommended the abolition of communal voting practices, ending segregation in government departments, ending the requirements to fill racial classification in official forms and calling on national leaders to work for all citizens, not only for their own race.

The seminar has been sponsored by the United Nations Development Program and NGOs and opened by the vice president, Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, with a call for all of Fiji's different communities to be made to feel they belong to the country.

Next story in Pacific: French court ruling has potential to bring down government in French Polynesia