24 May 2002

Fiji mahogany landowners take on state over use of resource

7:27 am on 24 May 2002

A group of mahogany landowners in Fiji is threatening confrontation and violence in the forests if they do not get their way.

The Fiji Times reports that the Serua Mahogany Landowners Association has attacked the government and the prime minister, saying they will do anything to stop the state from depriving them of mahogany forests which they claim belongs to them.

Its secretary, Sanivalati Niudamu, says their members wish to make it clear to the prime minister, the cabinet and the Chinese government that they will do whatever it takes to give their future generations an inheritance which the government is trying to take wawy.

Mr Niudamu says they are angered that Mr Qarase is embarking on a mahogany sales tour to China without consulting them first.

He says Mr Qarase's conduct reveals a level of dishonesty which is quite alarming and a cause of deep fear and concern among landowners.

Mr Nuidamu warns that the end result could be confrontation and even violence in the mahogany forests.

The threats come as mahogany forests worth hundreds of millions of dollars, planted and maintained by the state for more than 30 years, reach maturity and are ready for harvest.