26 Apr 2004

Power struggle within Fiji Sugar Growers Council

3:39 pm on 26 April 2004

A power struggle is looming in the Fiji Sugar Cane Growers Council following Saturday's poll to choose 38 elected councillors.

The Fiji Labour Party-aligned National Farmers Union won 22 seats, the National Federation Party-backed Cane Growers Association won 14, two fewer than last time, and there are two independents.

The government appoints another 8 members to make up the 46-member council.

The National Farmers Union leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has campaigned on a platform of ousting the current chief executive, Jaganath Sami, who was an NFP election candidate in the 1999 general election.

But Mr Sami has told the Fiji Sun newspaper that he is on contract and any attempt to unlawfully remove him from his position would be similar to the removal of the Labour government in the May 2000 coup.

Mr Sami says Labour has complained internationally that they were unlawfully and unconstitutionally removed from office.

The new council will hold its first meeting after the government has appointed its eight nominees.