26 Jun 2006

Fiji Labour Party says MPs and Cabinet Minister should vote on party lines

5:47 am on 26 June 2006

The Fiji Labour Party leader says party interests must remain paramount and all its backbenchers and cabinet ministers will have to vote along party lines.

Mahendra Chaudhry laid down the guideline in a discussion paper presented to the Labour Party's national council meeting at Nadi at the weekend.

Mr Chaudhry said recent controversy over the workings of the multi-party cabinet made it even more urgent to have firm guidelines and ground rules for its cabinet ministers.

He said central to the whole issue was the question "of loyalty and obligation to the party."

Mr Chaudhry said the party constitution was clear - Labour MPs and cabinet ministers must be guided by party policies as laid down in the party manifesto.

The Labour leader said the party's stand must prevail on key issues such as land lease legislation, a Code of Conduct Bill, measures to deal with corrupt practices and amendments to the 1997 Constitution.

Mr Chaudhry said other issues were matters of racial discrimination; the amnesty provisions for coup convicts in the Reconciliation and Unity Bill and controversial legislation such as the Land Claims Tribunal and Qoliqoli or Traditional Fishing Grounds Bill.