9 Jan 2007

Fiji's former Opposition leader alleges Labour Party involved in coup

4:22 pm on 9 January 2007

Fiji's ousted Opposition leader says the line-up of the new interim administration suggests the Labour Party played a part in last month's coup.

Mick Beddoes made the comment after Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry was sworn in as the new interim Minister

for Finance, Sugar Reform and National Planning in the country's military-backed interim administration.

Mr Beddoes claims Mr Chaudhry - who was overthrown as Prime Minister in a coup six years ago - had aspirations to return to government.

"I think its simply giving credence to the statement by Mr Qarase that in fact the Fiji Labour Party and the National Alliance were in some way involved in the events of December 5th."

Mr Beddoes says Mr Chaudhry and another FLP member, Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi have not resigned from the party so are representing it in the new administration.

Mr Chaudhry told the Fiji Times that he sees his appointment as a strange twist of destiny.

He told the newspaper that his main focus will be rebuilding the nation but said he would need to look at the financial reports of all ministries before deciding how to move forward.

Mr Chaudhry had earlier said he would not be part of an interim administration.

But he now says that it's the President's calling and the party has agreed to be part of the interim government to help in the recovery process.

Former army commander and Great Council of Chiefs Chairman Ratu Epeli Ganilau has accepted the portfolio of interim Fijian Affairs Minister.

Newly-appointed Youth and Sports Minister, Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi, who was ousted as Energy and Mineral Resources Minister in the multi party government, says he'll be focussing on job creation.

The former deputy leader of the Opposition Party, Bernadette Rounds Ganilau is the new Labour and Tourism Minister, and Ratu Jone Navakamocea has the Local Government and Urban Development portfolio.

Tevita Vuibau is the new interim Lands and Mineral Resources while Jainend Kumar has Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests.