17 Jun 2003

Fiji Opposition leader says multi party government hurts small minorities

4:13 pm on 17 June 2003

Fiji's Opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, says the multi-party government system provided for in the 1997 Constitution does not suit the country's eight small minority communities.

Mr Beddoes has told the Fiji Times the minority communities together have only three seats in Parliament, meaning that the Constitution gives only the indigenous Fijian and ethnic Indian communities the right to rule.

He says if Labour joins the Government after tomorrow's Supreme Court case, only he and New Labour MP, Ofa Duncan, would be left on the Opposition benches, making it difficult to stop the passage of bills and motions in Parliament.

But the former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, who was one of the framers of the 1997 Constitution, says minority parties must forge coalitions with the major parties and fight general elections to avoid exclusion from the Government.

The National Federation Party leader, Prem Singh, also says a grand coalition with the major parties is the way forward for the minority parties.

Mr Singh says minority parties must join forces with major parties which have similar ideals and principles.