16 Nov 2006

Fiji's Labour leader gives party's vice president ultimatum

8:04 pm on 16 November 2006

The leader of the Fiji Labour Party says his vice president should resign if he wants to back the government's Budget.

Mahendra Chaudhry made the comment after his most senior cabinet minister, Krishna Datt, attacked him in parliament.

Mr Datt told the House this week that he was shocked that Mr Chaudhry didn't accept the deputy prime ministership and "fix the budget".

Labour's caucus opposed the Budget after the government raised VAT on essential goods from 12.5 to 15 percent.

The Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, has warned that Labour cabinet ministers opposing it could face dismissal.

But Mr Chaudhry says the party comes first, and Mr Datt had better decide where his loyalty lies.

"If he wants to go with Mr Qarase then he should resign from the Labour Party. The Labour Party caucus has given a decision. Now if he feels he can't go along with the decision, the honorable thing for him to do is to resign."

He says the multi party cabinet is being paraded as a panacea of all ills.