19 May 2005

Deposed Fiji PM rejects Baba criticism on coup anniversary

4:12 pm on 19 May 2005

Fiji's deposed prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, has rejected criticism levelled at him by his former deputy, Dr Tupeni Baba, on the fifth anniversary of the Speight coup today.

Dr Baba alleged on Radio Legend that when prime minister, Mr Chaudhry was partial and did not take the interests of the indigenous Fijians into account when deciding government policy.

Dr Baba also said that members of the Labour coalition government were planning to oust Mr Chaudhry from the prime ministership through a vote of no confidence before the coup happened.

Mr Chaudhry has rejected Dr Baba's allegations and said the best compliment on his prime ministership had come from the former president, the late Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara.

Ratu Mara had said in a Fiji TV interview that Mr Chaudhry had been one of the best prime ministers ever in Fiji and that the indigenous Fijian people would have benefitted most under his leadership.

Mr Chaudhry says he would rather go by Ratu Mara's compliments than the embittered mutterings of Dr Baba.

Mr Chaudhry says in his cabinet, there were 12 Fijian ministers while only 6 were ethnic Indians.

He says he went beyond reason in trying to assure indigenous Fijians that their interests were safe.

Mr Chaudhry says Dr Baba always secretly harboured an ambition of become the prime minister in their government.

But Mr Chaudhry says in the Labour Party people have to earn their leadership on merit and cannot just grab it because they come from a particular ethnic group