www.fijitimes.com - Friday, November 17, 2006
The prolonged stand-off between the Government and the military has reinforced the racial polarisation of the nation, according to the results of an exclusive Tebbutt-Times poll.
Overall, 45 per cent of those polled supported the Government and 36 per cent the military.
However, it was in the ethnic breakdown that the differences were most apparent and followed the trend set in the May general election, where the vote was divided along racial lines.
Conducted this week, the poll found that 67 per cent of Fijians backed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and 54 per cent of Indians supported army chief Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
The poll asked more than 1000 adults who they believed was in the right in the stand-off that raised fears of a coup and heavily affected tourist bookings.
Just 6 per cent said both were right, 4 per cent said neither was right, 8 per cent were not sure and 1 per cent refused to answer the question.
Only 18 per cent of Fijians polled supported the military, raising doubts about claims by Commodore Bainimarama that the indigenous community is deeply split over the controversial Qoliqoli and Reconciliation Bills.
However, only 24 per cent of Indians support the Government, indicating the majority see its determination to push the pro-Fijian legislation through Parliament as not being in their best interests.
Other races tended to support the Government, although the split was not as well defined.
Overall, 47 per cent of "Other" races backed Mr Qarase and 29 per cent supported Commodore Bainimarama.
Interestingly, the "Other" races group had the highest incidence of those unsure who was in the right - 13 per cent. Surprisingly, there was also solid support for the Government in the West, with 51 per cent people polled there in support, compared to 31 per cent in favour of the military's stand.
In Suva, the difference was much closer 42 per cent of people supported the Government and 38 per cent the military.