Sunday, March 11, 2007

A National Identity for Fiji?

Fiji lacks national identity: Yabaki

Sunday, March 11, 2007

At the heart of Fiji's problems lies the lack of national identity, says Citizen's Constitutional Forum executive director, Reverend Akuila Yabaki.

The comment is part of Mr Yabaki's personal testimony to an audience including Queen Elizabeth II, at London's Westminster Abbey tomorrow Commonwealth Day.

Other high profile personalities to be present include the Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon, senior ministers and 2000 other people.

In his statement to be presented tomorrow, Mr Yabaki said the use of the term 'Fijian' to describe nationality was resisted by many indigenous Fijians.

"For example, the use of the name "Fijian" to describe all citizens of Fiji is resisted by many indigenous people," he said.

"Those who fear that the promise of equality before the law in a multicultural society threatens the protection of their own status.

"The other communities, such as the IndoFijians, who have lived here for three or four generations, feel alienated by the political system and find it difficult to identify with national symbols."

Mr Yabaki said Christianity was used by the indigenous majority to justify the political situation.

"I am working to keep alive the vision that all Fiji citizens can have a sense of belonging to the country of their birth," he said. "We in Fiji must move beyond racialised politics and military coups."

Mr Yabaki was invited by the Council of Commonwealth Societies.

The theme of this year's celebrations is "Commonwealth Respecting Difference, Promoting Understanding".

Meanwhile, Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon told AFP there was no reason in Fiji for a military leader to decide to take over the Government.

He said even if there was corruption identified and highlighted, that is no reason as there were the political and judicial systems to deal with that.

He said if people do not like a government, they could vote it out.

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