United Fiji Party

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The United Fiji Party (Fijian: Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua) is a political party in Fiji. It was founded in 2001 by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase as a power base; it absorbed most of the Christian Democratic Alliance and other conservative groupings, and its endorsement by the Great Council of Chiefs (Bose Levu Vakaturaga) caused it to be widely seen as the successor to the Alliance, the former ruling party that had dominated Fijian politics from the 1960s to the 1980s. It draws its support mainly from indigenous Fijiians.

From the time of its inception, the United Fiji Party has stood for the economic and social advancement of indigenous Fijians, along with the development of other ethnic groups. It also calls for a consolidation of the rule of law and claims to support an independent judiciary.

The United Fiji Party contested 59 of the 71 parliamentary seats in the 2001 elections; this figure included only 7 of the 19 seats reserved for Indo-Fijians. It received 26 percent of the vote, well short of the 32 percent polled by the Fiji Labour Party, but helped by preference deals with other ethnic Fijian-dominated parties as well as the Into-Fijian-led National Federation Party, it became the largest party in Parliament, with 32 out of 71 seats. It subsequently formed a coalition with the Conservative Alliance, which remains in office as of January 2005.

The United Fiji Party is widely known by the initials SDL, which stand for the party's Fijian name. Prime Minister Qarase is the parliamentary leader of the SDL; Jale Baba is the General Secretary.

At its annual conference on 27 May [[2005], the SDL strongly endorsed Prime Minister Qarase's controversial proposals to establish a Reconciliation and Unity Commission with powers, subject to presidential approval, to compensate victims and pardon perpetrators of the coup d'état that deposed the elected government in 2000. It agreed, however, to listen to objections. At the same conference, Qarase publicly welcomed what he claimed was an increase in the number of Indo-Fijians joining the SDL, evidence, he said, that the SDL was the multiracial party it had always claimed to be.

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