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Elected PM's Wife Waits In Vain

Published: Mon 26 Jun 2000 11:02 AM
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SUVA: Virmati Chaudhry, wife of Fiji's democratically elected prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry, waited yesterday in vain for her husband to be set free.
And she also waited the day before in disappointment.
Her hopes of reuniting with her captive husband and son, Rajendra, were dashed yet again by the deadlocked talks between the military regime and rebel leader George Speight's group.
"To be told again that the talks haven't reached anywhere, it is quite upsetting," she said on Fiji Television's Close-Up current affairs programme last night.
The programme was devoted to the release of four women hostages during the early hours of the morning after 37 days of captivity in Parliament.
"What wrong did Mahend do to be punished like this?" said Mrs Chaudhry, who is a Christian.
"He was determined to do his best for the country."
She said she and others had prayed at last year's May general election for God to choose the best leader for Fiji.
"From a Christian point of view, they [the rebels] are actually fighting Him."
In an interview with the Sunday Post, Mrs Chaudhry echoed these views, saying she did not have hard feelings towards the rebels.
"I have forgiven them. My Bible tells me me to do so and I have done it. But I want to ask why are these 31 people [captives] being punished? What wrong have they done?" she asked.
"What wrong has Mahend done - he was elected by the people and given a mandate to carry out his duties as prime minister?
"And I must remind everyone, who has forgotten, that before the elections last year, many were praying for God to give Fiji a good government.
"And I can say that God had a hand in Mahend's and the People's Coalition victory. Now it seems the fight is not with the People's Coalition, but with the Lord.
"He was the choice of God."
According to the Fiji Times today, the military has not ruled out the option of storming Parliament now that the last women hostages have been released.
Negotiations were broken off by the military yesterday because of new demands by Speight. But military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Filipo Tarakinikini said the door was still open for further talks.
The controversial issue in the talks is the appointment of the president.
Speight wants a president appointed first - the military want the decision left to the Great Council of Chiefs.
Lt-Col Tarakinikini described the release of the four women - former Minister for Tourism Adi Koila Mara Nailatikau, Lavenia Padarath (Minister for Women), Marieta Rigamoto (Assistant Minister for Agriculture) and backbencher Akanisi Koroitamana - as a positive step.
He added that there were now "less restrictions" in dealing with the hostage situation.
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