9 Oct 2006

Jailed Fiji chief warns Qarase of catastrophe over junior minister

2:36 pm on 9 October 2006

A Fiji paramount chief jailed for life for inciting the November 2000 army mutiny has warned the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, of catastrophe if he removes a state minister from office over disciplinary issues.

The Fiji Times reports that the former government senator and vice president of the ruling SDL party, Ratu Inoke Takiveikata, wrote to Mr Qarase last Friday.

He told the prime minister that any move by his political advisors to remove Rajesh Singh as the minister of state for youth and sport would be a formula for catastrophe.

Ratu Inoke said Mr Singh was under pressure from his line minister, R Teimumu Kepa, and his chief executive officer, Poasa Ravea, but the allegations against Mr Singh were unjustified and fabricated.

Ratu Inoke said Mr Singh was doing his best to clean up the mess in the ministry in order to practise what is often preached by the SDL party about accountability, transparency and good governance.

He said he had asked Mr Singh not to resign from his post but to support the party.

Mr Qarase has confirmed that he received the letter before leaving for Australia on Friday but says his dealings with his ministers are his own and he does not seek advice from anyone else.

Mr Singh says Ratu Inoke is his chief and brought him into politics, and he would listen to his chief's advice on the resignation issue.