ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Deepening Divides

Indians first went to Fiji as indentured labourers and later as traders. Their fight for a place in the hierarchical Fijian society, first under British colonial rule and later under parliamentary democracy, continues. 

On May 19, a little known Fijian, George Speight led seven gunmen into the Fijian parliament and seized as hostages the prime minister, Mahendra Pal Chaudhury, and his cabinet colleagues. Speight, an ethnic Fijian was seeking to harness the simmering discontent and the grievances of the Fijians who were chafing under the leadership of Chaudhury whose government was seen to favour the Indo-Fijians. Today, the hostages still remain in custody and the crisis shows no sign of abating.

Fijis second coup since independence in 1970 has been triggered by the conflict between the ethnic Fijians and those of Indian origin. Only last year, Chaudhury became prime minister following elections. The attempt to dislodge a democratically elected government has been widely condemned by the international community.

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