24 Jun 2005

Fiji politician accuses PM of deception over Reconciliation Bill

10:15 am on 24 June 2005

Fiji's prime minister is facing accusations of "monumental deception" in a meeting with church leaders on his controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill.

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Petero Mataca, said yesterday Laisenia Qarase did not tell church leaders about the amnesty clauses or show them a copy of the Bill when he set up a meeting with them last month.

The Fiji Times reports that the leader of the National Alliance Party and former chairman of the Great Council of Chiefs and former military commander, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, has accused Mr Qarase of "monumental deception" on the issue.

Ratu Epeli says "it does not say much about the credibility of the prime minister for him to be saying publicly that that the Christian churches support the Bill after these deliberate acts of deception."

He says it should not be taken for granted that indigenous Fijian people will blindly support the Bill.

Ratu Epeli says everyone wants reconciliation, but the people of Fiji are sick of the pretences of the nation's leaders to move the country forward.

He has suggested that the Christian churches work together with non-Christian churches to put together a blueprint for reconciliation and unity for Fiji.

Ratu Epeli says everyone should continue to support the laws of the country but not the Bill, which has caused so much division and distrust among the people.