Villagers branded as ‘liumuri’ after no one voted for party

Fijian PM and FijiFirst leader Voreqe Bainimarama. Picture: ATU RASEA/FILE

RELOCATED villagers of Vunidogoloa in Cakaudrove say they have been branded ‘liumuri’ (backstabbers) and mocked by others, after Prime Minister and FijiFirst party leader Voreqe Bainimarama used the same term to describe them during his election campaign on Vanua Levu.

Mr Bainimarama had told meetings that after relocating the village and putting fish ponds into Vunidogoloa, no one voted for him.

He said during his campaign in the village in 2014, Vunidogoloa villagers had cried, telling him they would vote for his party.

But village headman Sailosi Ramatu said they were only exercising their rights as citizens to vote for their preferred political party.

Mr Ramatu said they had been shamed by the comments made by Mr Bainimarama. He claimed they had been called ‘liumuri (backstabbers)’ by the people.

“In the true iTaukei spirit, we forgive and apologise to Mr Bainimarama if we had hurt him in any way because we were only practising our rights when we voted, and we believe that this right is something that is solely ours,” he said.

“The comments that he made were belittling, levelled against the vanua of Vunidogoloa which has its own people and culture.

“However, we want to clarify the claims that he (Mr Bainimarama) made, because the timber for our new homes were provided by the vanua and it had also given its share of monetary contribution.

“Therefore, for Mr Bainimarama to insinuate that the project was a wholly government-funded one is not true because it was a partnership.”

Mr Ramatu said even if Government had fully funded the project, it was the Government’s duty to do so because the money it used was not theirs but public funds.

“As a result of his comments, we have been branded and mocked for exercising our constitutional right to vote for the government of our preference,” he said.