28 Jun 2006

Rift in Fiji Labour Party grows wider

8:17 am on 28 June 2006

A rift within the Fiji Labour Party has reached crisis point after four senior members blocked a list of names for appointment to the Senate submitted by their leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

The Fiji Times reports that the deputy party leader Poseci Bune, vice presidents Krishna Datt and Dr Atu Emberson-Bain, and board member Felix Anthony have demanded that Mr Chaudhry seek the management board's approval for the list of Senate nominees.

The internal rift has seen the opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, hold on to the list which he was to have given to President Iloilo yesterday.

In a letter to Mr Chaudhry dated on Monday, Mr Bune, Mr Datt, Dr Emberson-Bain and Mr Anthony questioned his alleged "proprietorial and secretive" approach to Senate appointments.

The letter called on Mr Chaudhry to explain why the former Vuda Open MP, Vijay Singh, was omitted from the Labour Party's Senate list despite a management board decision before the general election to appoint him to the Upper House.

Yesterday, the disgruntled MPs wrote to Mr Beddoes asking him to withhold the list of senate nominees given by Mr Chaudhry until the party sorts the matter out.

The senior Labour members say "the party talks a lot about democracy and good governance", so they "should practice what they preach."

An emergency Labour Party board meeting has been called for this afternoon but it is unclear if Mr Chaudhry will attend because he is due to fly out of the country today.