8 Dec 2005

Fiji's Prime Minister facing a defamation charge

7:21 pm on 8 December 2005

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has sued the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, for defamation.

Radio Fiji reports that lawyers for Mr Chaudhry filed the writ after Mr Qarase had been given three days to provide evidence of his allegations or apologise.

Mr Qarase had said both in parliament and on Fiji TV that he had knowledge that Labour Party members had tried to get commissions from the 52-million US dollar restructure of the sugar industry.

Mr Chaudhry has served the write on Mr Qarase in his personal capacity which means that he cannot use taxpayers money to defend himself.

Mr Chaudhry has also served a writ on Fiji TV for broadcasting Mr Qarase's comments made outside parliament even though the Labour leader says he had denied the allegations inside the House.

He says the allegations are completely false and malicious.

Mr Chaudhry has also welcomed any commission of inquiry into the issue as called for the Fiji Cane Growers Association and the National Federation Party.