29 Jun 2006

Fiji Labour officials defy leader

8:44 pm on 29 June 2006

Some senior Fiji Labour Party officials claim that Mahendra Chaudhry is not their leader because of a technicality.

Radio Legend quotes them as saying this is because Mr Chaudhry was not officially re-endorsed into the position after last month's general elections.

Therefore, they say, Mr Chaudhry has no powers to nominate people for appointment to the Senate.

They say this was why the management board met yesterday to overturn Mr Chaudhry's proposed list of senators and make a collective decision on a new list.

The acting leader of the party, Poseci Bune, submitted the new list after it was endorsed by senior Labour Party members.

The radio report says Mr Bune called an urgent meeting of the Labour Party caucus late this afternoon to brief them on these developments.

But the party's acting secretary general, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, insists that Mr Chaudhry is still the party leader.

Mr Vyashnoi says the decisions made by yesterday's management board meeting are null and void because only the party president, Jokapeci Koroi, and Mr Chaudhry are authorized to call such meetings.

Earlier this afternoon, Fiji police were reported to be investigating the background and criminal histories of Mr Chaudhry's eight senate nominees following a request from unnamed sources.

It was reported that at least one person out of the eight may have been convicted of a criminal offence.