11 Feb 2003

Fiji PM denies alleged discrimination in aid distribution

2:45 pm on 11 February 2003

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has denied claims by the Labour Party of racial discrimination in the way it has given food rations to victims of Cyclone Ami.

Speaking on Radio Fiji, Mr Qarase said the claims are typical of the Labour Party.

He said it is sad that Labour has criticised the government at a time when right thinking people are working together to help the victims.

On the distribution of rations, Mr Qarase said indigenous Fijians in remote parts of Vanua Levu and islands of the Lau group were the last to receive assistance.

He said it is unfortunate that natural disasters have always been politicised.

The Labour Party plans to move a motion in parliament calling on the government to explain the delays and allegations of racial discrimination.

Labour will ask parliament to appoint a bipartisan special committee of the House to monitor relief assistance and make appropriate recommendations to deal with similar disasters in the future.