2018 General Elections: National unity in focus

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry. Picture: FT FILE/JOVESA NAISUA

SOME political parties contesting the 2018 polls are divided on the issue of how Fiji can achieve national unity.

In our election issue (in the newspaper) this week, we questioned the seven registered political parties contesting the 2018 polls on what Fiji needs to do to achieve national unity.

The National Federation Party (NFP), Unity Fiji party, Fiji Labour Party and the Freedom Alliance Party are of the view that unity has to be carefully nurtured through policies that encourage understanding and tolerance for each other’s views, opinions, cultures and traditions.

However, the HOPE party says Fiji needs to do very little to achieve peace and stability or unity, going forward.

The party believes that 90 per cent of the Fijians were united to have no more coups and wanted good governance.

The FijiFirst party and SODELPA did not respond to the question when this edition went to press last night.

Questions were sent to the parties via electronic mail (email) on Tuesday. The NFP, FLP, Unity Fiji, HOPE party and the Freedom Alliance Party responded to the question.

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said politicians needed to understand that they could not bring about national unity.

“We should do what we can to create the right conditions. Then we must step back — and let the people lead the way,” Prof Prasad said.

FLP parliamentary leader Aman Ravindra-Singh said a government cannot unite a nation by removing the rights and freedom of the people.

“Likewise national unity cannot be imposed from above. Nor can it be forged by simply giving a common name to all citizens, although that is desirable,” Mr Ravindra-Singh said.

Unity Fiji party leader Savenaca Narube said to build a nation, we needed to find peace.

“To find peace, we need to create unity. To find unity, we must promote ethnic tolerance. To build tolerance, we must first understand our fears and concerns. To build true understanding, we must listen to our people. We must put people first. We cannot build a nation through fear and intimidation. We cannot achieve unity by imposition of laws to force people together,” he said.

Freedom Alliance Party leader Jagath Karunaratne said Fiji needed genuine and honest political leadership that believed and valued national unity above everything, and a leader who was able to bring all races together.

“Genuine leadership, it is unfortunate that it is the political party concept under democracy that divides people. The winning formula of the majority is about division and when politics is about winning, winning becomes everything,” he said.

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