20 May 2005

Fiji Labour Party leader assesses coup effects

10:10 am on 20 May 2005

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the 1987 and 2000 coups have set the country back more than 25 years and forced 124,000 citizens to flee.

Mr Chaudhry made the comment at a Labour Party function to remember the 1987 and 2000 coups, in the first of which he was ousted as finance minister and in the second as prime minister.

Mr Chaudhry said apart from the hurt, the shattered confidence, and the physical loss and suffering that the coups inflicted on the people, there was a magnitude of lost opportunities at the national level.

This was in terms of thwarted development, loss of investor confidence, neglect of infrastructure, the worrying decline in social services such as medical facilities and education, and the increasing poverty of nearly half of the population.

Mr Chaudhry said Bureau of Statistics figures show that 124,000 people have migrated since 1987 but the actual figure is likely to much higher because many left on tourist visas and never came back.

Mr Chaudhry said that is why it is important to be constantly reminded of the havoc wreaked by misguided groups bent on pursuing their vested interests under the guise of indigenous rights.

He said there can be no genuine reconciliation unless the perpetrators of the coups are brought to justice.