Fiji United Peoples Party winds itself up | Pacific Beat

Fiji United Peoples Party winds itself up

Fiji United Peoples Party winds itself up

Updated 28 January 2013, 17:49 AEDT

Fiji's United People's Party has officially dissolved.

The party, which grew out of the old General Voters Party, representing part-Europeans, Chinese and other minority races in Fiji, says it would be impossible for it to meet the tight restrictions on political parties announced by the coup installed military government.

UPP members are being encouraged to decide for themselves if they wish to join any of the existing parties.

Party leader, Mick Beddoes, tells Bruce Hill it's a sad day for the UPP, but it's a decision forced on them by what he calls the interim government's ridiculous rules on political parties.

Presenter: Bruce Hill

Speaker: Leader of Fiji's United People's Party, Mick Beddoes

BEDDOES: This decree has come into play and is basically making it as difficult as possible for anyone to comply, so we decided to activate the resolution that we made and wind the party up.

HILL: It can't have been an easy decision, the UPP and before that the General Voter's Party, has been in existence for quite a long time and representing Fiji's other groups; the people there that aren't indigenous iTaukei or Indo-Fijian?

BEDDOES: Yeah absolutely, I mean of course a very sad time, especially for those of us who founded it and started it. And our beginnings were as a result of our refusal joining a minority-only party after the 1987 coup, or when the Alliance Party ended, which we were all members of, and the creation of the party which was only for Fijians. And it was putting our communities further into racial compartments, and we refused to accept this, we wanted to stay together as all communities and this is how we moved into the organisation that we regrettably had just wound up today.

HILL: The interim government says that it's trying to encourage multi-racialism and get parties that don't represent one particular ethnic group. So was the UPP, which was mainly part-Europeans, Chinese and others, was the day of that kind of party really over in Fiji anyway, or did it still have a future do you think?

BEDDOES: I would have thought that we would have a very bright future, but the demands on a political party are bad enough as it is, and the requirements in this decree are ridiculous to say the least. I mean people have been under the mistaken impression that we're just the minorities, and they talk about minorities as if there's just one community. There are actually more than ten different ethnic communities that make up minorities. So there's a vast collection of ethnic communities that we represent, and we also have in our representation part-Fijians, part-Indian. So we have everybody in it, and obviously expanding to include more Fijian and Indian support was the way of the future for the UPP. And if we could not see ourselves getting that in the time that we would have had, then obviously our recommendation which is contained in our statement, is for our people to join as individual members, individual financial members of one of the other political parties, mainly the SDL, FLP or NFP.

HILL: Now you're not actually recommending any particular party for your former members and supporters to join now. Why is that, because most politicians in your position would want to at least say everyone that seems to follow me, follow me into this new party, you then negotiate for a position in that new party?

BEDDOES: Yeah, you're absolutely right, most politicians would not forfeit their political base. But I'm looking at it not from my point of view, I'm looking at it from the best interests of our people, the minority people, because for me yeah, I'm forfeiting my political base, but that's a small price to pay I think in the overall scheme of things. If I can encourage our members to go and become financial members of those three other parties, either one or two or whichever one they choose, and it's their own freewill, and by doing that they alter, which I refer to as the DNA mix, of those political parties, because they're now direct members. And where people once maybe looked at the other bigger parties as predominantly Fijian or Indian etc., with the influx hopefully of former UPP members as direct members, then obviously in time, I'm not saying that's going to make the difference, but I'm saying eventually it'll make a difference. And each of these parties will become more fully multiracial based, that's a positive.

HILL: Well that's what's happening to your supporters and members. What about the political future for Mick Beddoes? You've been in politics a long time, you were the last former opposition leader after the coup, you've been through difficult positions, is there a political future for Mick Beddoes?

BEDDOES: Oh yeah, I don't think anyone should read this signal that's the end of my political career, not at all. I will in the coming days make my decision and announcement as to which party that I'm going to join. And then at that point in time I'm going to invite all those supporters of mine who have backed me for the last two elections, and they've continued to have trust and confidence in me, to join me, and we'll take it from there. But for now I'm leaving the decision on which party to join entirely up to our supporters and members, so that's free, and they can make their own decisions.

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