11 Aug 2003

Fiji's NFP wants moratorium on evictions of tenant farmers

4:40 pm on 11 August 2003

Fiji's National Federation party has called on the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, to begin moves to impose a moratorium on the eviction of tenant farmers whose leases have expired.

NFP leader, Prem Singh, says they are making the call in view of the lack of any progress on solving the problem by July of this year as promised by Mr Qarase.

Mr Singh says while the talanoa talks between the government and the Fiji Labour party drag on, the tenant community are having sleepless nights worrying about their future as they become innocent victims of political power play.

He says whipping up the emotions of landowners not to renew leases and to forcibly evict tenants whose leases have expired, and hoodwinking farmers to quit cane farming and move into refugee camps, will not solve the problem.

The NFP call comes just after a government MP, Peniasi Silatolu, told parliament that displaced farmers pretend to be poor when they are not.

Mr Silatolu questioned what was the fuss about displaced farmers when nobody cared for the indigenous landowners who had leased their land for 30 years without fair returns.

Mr Silatolu asked why the farmers could not be displaced for ten years if the indigenous people had been deprived of their land for 30 years.