3 Oct 2003

Fiji Labour leader defends dumping Farmer union president

10:20 am on 3 October 2003

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has defended taking action against the president of the National Farmers Union who was seeking his removal from the post of general secretary in the Union.

Dewan Chand was dumped as President at a meeting headed by Mr Chaudhry who had earlier been accused by Mr Chand of using the union to fulfill his political agenda.

Mr Chaudhry says while Mr Chand's claims were unsubstantiated, he himself had obtained signed statements from two members who claim they gave money to Mr Chand in return for favours but never recieved them...

"I then confronted Mr Chand with these allegations and he admitted at least in two cases that he had received the money and I asked him to repay the money to those members ...he did not do that either so the board met and Mr Chand has now been suspended...of course the final decision on the matter will be taken by the national executive board which will meet in two weeks time"

Mahendra Chaudhry

Mr Chand has since announced that he has defected to the National Federation Party.

He says he can no longer work with Mr Chaudhry and has no choice but to join the NFP as he wants to continue working for farmers.