3 Jun 2004

Fiji PM accuses Labour leader of trying to destroy the nation

10:29 am on 3 June 2004

Fiji's prime minister has accused the Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, of trying to destroy the nation because of his personal agenda.

Fiji TV says the accusation follows Labour's decision to boycott the new joint parliamentary select committee to resolve land lease issues.

Labour had already been boycotting the joint parliamentary select committee set up to rescue the ailing sugar industry.

Laisenia Qarase says he has already made concessions to Mr Chaudhry on the sugar issue but the Labour leader's demands are too unreasonable.

On the land lease select committee, Mr Chaudhry says Mr Qarase's unilateral decision to reserve 60% of all leases on native land for indigenous Fijians means there's no point in bothering with the committee.

Mr Qarase says he has never said that, and Mr Chaudhry has misunderstood the issue.

Mr Qarase says he "simply cannot manage the affairs of the nation on the basis of negotiations with another party" when Mr Chaudhry has a personal agenda to destroy Fiji.

Both select committees were agreed to during "talanoa" talks mediated by Dr Sitiveni Halapua of the East West Centre in April.