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Fiji coup condemned

SUVA, Fiji (CNS): An archbishop in Fiji has condemned the overthrow at gunpoint of the country’s democratically elected government.

Archbishop Petero Mataca of Suva said on May 24 that the actions of gunmen who took Fiji’s prime minister and others hostage in the parliament complex had shocked men and women of good will in Fiji and around the world.

He made the comments in a message sent by fax to the New Zealand Catholic newspaper in Auckland.

Coup leader George Speight led gunmen into parliament on May 19 taking hostage Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and members of the Cabinet, the opposition, and others in an action which the Church strongly condemned, the archbishop said.

Mr Speight alleges that Mr Chaudhry, who was elected Fiji’s first Indian prime minister in 1999, has favoured the country’s economically dominant Indian minority.

In his message, the archbishop added that the Church “also condemns the discriminative destruction and burning of property, and looting”.

“It is the part of Fiji history (where) I am ashamed to (be) known as a Fiji islander.”

He said the Church’s sympathy went to its ethnic Indian brothers and sisters, the main targets of the attacks by indigenous Fijians. He requested every parish, community and individual to assure ethnic Indian citizens they were their neighbours, as the Bible taught.

At the same time, he said, the Church hears the cry of frustration and anger of indigenous Fijians.

“We will journey with them until they feel secure in their identity, (in their) rights as indigenous (people) and in their stewardship of time, talents and treasures, including land given by God,” he said.

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