For the second time in six months, Fijians are going to go to the polls.?
SV EXTERIOR: National Federation Party members seated on floor.
CU: 'flower faction' led by Mr Jai Ram Reddy, seated.
SV: opposition leader speaking into microphone (Mr Siddiqh Koya)
SV: demo posters saying 'vote for my uncle Jai Ram Reddy' (2 shots)
SV PAN: Reddy seated with others.
GV ZOOM INTO SCU: banner hanging from trees 'vote alliance'
SV: people milling about.
SV: Fiji Prime Minister Ratmara seated with reporter. (2 shots)
SV: Prime Minster speaking.
SV: opposition leader Koya speaking.
REPORTER: "The party making the most noise in this campaign is the National Federation Party. The party's now clearly split. There's a 'flower faction' led by this man, Jai Ram Reddy and a 'bird faction' led by opposition leader, Siddiqh Koya. The most significant battle is taking place here in Lautoka, where Reddy is fighting for Koya's own seat. The 'flower faction' lined up at the top brass for this meeting and Reddy could well beat Koya to the seat. But the split in the Federation Party will probably cost then the election, and Prime Minister Ratu Mara is confident his alliance Party will win back its seats. The Alliance Party is expected to win back some of the Fijian votes it lost in April but it's unlikely to do well in the India seats. The Nationalist Party's threat to throw out the Indians has polarised the voters and stirred up racial tensions. However Siddiqh Koya did not become Prime Minister. Instead the Governor General called on Ratu Mara to form a government. Relations between Koya and Ratu Mara have become so bad, that now the Prime Minister said he will resign if Koya again becomes leader of the Opposition."
RATU MARA: "I would resign certainly. Unless they can devolve some other system, well, or someone talk to Mr Koya and I carry on as the Prime Minister I certainly will not work with Mr Koya."
REPORTER: "Signs of tension mount and the meetings go on. This weekend the voters will go to the polls. The pundits say Alliance will win easily. The sceptics say it could be the same as last time; deadlock and yet another election."
Racialism - an important force in Fijian politics - came to a head two years ago when a former cabinet minister of the Alliance Party set up his own Fijian National Party which had a heavy anti-Indian slant. His slogan, 'Fiji for the Fijians' and claims that the economic problems and future of the Fijian ethnic group would be solved if the Indians who have a tight grip on commerce, were deported, won a great deal of support from the Fijians. The governing Alliance Party launched a campaign stressing help for the Indians, particularly in regard to the land tenancy laws. Non-Fijians are not allowed to acquire land, and as most cane-growers in Fiji are Indians they are forced to work land that they can only lease from Fijian owners. Despite this stand taken by the Alliance Party, they lost their majority in the last elections, because the opposition National Federation Party persuaded the Indian community that the Alliance Party were in fact anti-Indian and pro-Fijian.
REPORTER: KATHY JUDD
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: For the second time in six months, Fijians are going to go to the polls. In a earlier election in April, the opposition National Federation Party won the majority of the votes, but when its leader Mr Siddiqh Koya went to take over as Premier from Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the leader of the Alliance Party, Mr Koya found he had lost the support of his own party. For four days Fiji was virtually without a government...until the Governor General of Fiji, Ratu Sir George Cakabau, decided to ask Ratu Mara to form a government. He has governed since April with a minority of seats. A report on the coming elections from B.C.N.Z's Kathy Judd.