25 Oct 2013

Vanuatu chief worried about ni-Vanuatu in Fiji

2:30 pm on 25 October 2013

Chiefs in Vanuatu have asked the Fiji president, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, to ensure that the descendants of ni-Vanuatu in Fiji are being accommodated in the new constitution.

The Vaturisu Council of Chiefs of Efate made the call during this week's visit by Ratu Epeli, who is on a Melanesian tour.

Chief Manlaewia Henry says in colonial times, the ni-Vanuatu were forced to go to Fiji to work in sugar cane plantations.

He says he is worried about the way Fiji authorities are treating them now.

"The problem is they don't regard those people like Fijian citizens. They don't provide an education for them or job. So we worry."

Chief Manlaewia Henry says he hopes the Fiji constitution can be changed.

Ratu Epeli has given a copy of the constitution to the Vanuatu prime minister.

The Fiji information ministry says Vanuatu has offered to assist Fiji in its preparations for elections in 2014, but has given no details.