21 Nov 2006

Fiji's PM allows FLP ministers to abstain on budget vote

6:09 am on 21 November 2006

With just a day to go before Fiji's 2007 Budget is put to the vote in parliament, the prime minister has offered to let Labour Party ministers abstain.

But Laisenia Qarase says he will not tolerate a vote against the budget.

Mr Qarase has told Fiji TV with three FLP ministers abroad on official duties and two hospitalized, five of them won't be voting any way.

Mr Qarase says if some ministers resign or have to be dismissed because of their vote against the budget, he will issue an invitation to the Labour Party leader for their replacements.

But he says he will not accept as replacements any Labour Party backbenchers who vote against the budget.

The Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, remains adamant that the party decision is that all its MPs and ministers must be present in the House and vote against the budget.

He says those failing to abide by the party rules will face disciplinary action.