A Statement from a Women's Network in Fiji...

Subject: Press Release
Date: Mon, 22 May 2000 10:50:24 +1200

PRESS RELEASE
Issued by Seona Smiles of DAWN
Sunday 21 May


A senior member of a Fijian opposition political party apologised to
the wife of the kidnapped Fiji Prime Minister at a women's vigil held
in Suva today (Sunday 21 May 2000).
Taufa Vakatale, a former leader of the SVT party expressed deep
sorrow, regret and shame at the actions of a group which is holding
Fiji Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and the Peoples Coalition
Government hostage in Parliament House.
She extended apologies to Mrs Virmati Chaudhry, who was among almost
200 women and leaders of non-government organisations and civil groups
who took part in a vigil called by the Fiji National Council of
Women. Further vigils will be held daily from 12 noon to 2pm in the
Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, Suva, and all women concerned about
the current crisis are invited to attend.
The women formed a group to visit the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese
Mara, who is currently running the country under a state of
emergency. They plan further actions to protest against the illegal
activities of the rebel group.
Amongst the activities is a petition addressed to the group leader,
George Speight, declaring that he is not the representative of the
people of Fiji, including indigenous Fijians.
This reflected many of the comments by speakers at the vigil, who said
as indigenous Fijians they were firm in their conviction that George
Speight did not speak for them. They did not support his actions in
any way.
The petition urges him to release all his hostages, free of harm, from
the Parliamentary complex "that symbolises a fully democratic Fiji in
which the rights of all people are respected."

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