5 Aug 2003

Fiji's Prime Minister says Australian unionists are bullying Fiji

4:16 pm on 5 August 2003

Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, has warned against foreign intervention in the country's affairs.

Radio Fiji says Mr Qarase issued the warning in Parliament today in response to pressure from Australian trade unions on the formation of a multi party cabinet.

He said Fiji may be small but it will not bow down to arrogant attempts by foreign powers on how to run the country's affairs.

Mr Qarase says Australia Labour Party supporters Tony Sheldon and Michael Williamson are part of an emerging plan to compel him to accept the Fiji Labour Party's wishes on a multi party Cabinet.

"The bullying tactics by Williamson and Sheldon are a direct attack on the people of Fiji, and their sovereign rights to determine their own future. Their message is do what we say or you will pay the price, do what we want or we will use the big stick against you. We will punish you by depriving thousands of your citizens of employment and creating other severe damages to your economy."

But in his reply to Mr Qarase, Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry says Fiji is already experiencing international trade sanctions, such as the European Union withholding new aid, because the current government is unconstitutional.