9 Jan 2007

Fiji Labour Party accused of benefiting from coup

7:37 pm on 9 January 2007

The Fiji Labour Party has been accused of riding on the back of the military to remove the democratically elected government.

The Fijilive website says the accusations come from a former ruling SDL party executive, Peceli Kinivuwai.

It quotes Mr Kinivuwai as saying that the SDL had predicted that the FLP and the National Alliance Party would take advantage of the military.

The SDL has also called on the interim government to call up fresh elections so that the mandate of the people is known.

The country's new finance minister - Mahendra Chaudhry - has described his appointment as a strange twist of destiny.

The Labour leader is the new interim Finance, Sugar Reform and National Planning Minister in the country's military-backed interim administration.

Mr Chaudhry says it's bizarre because he was finance minister 20 years ago when the Bavadra Government was overthrown by the military, led by Col Sitiveni Rabuka.

"Almost twenty years later I am being reinstated to the same position by the republic of Fiji military forces led by Commodore Bainimarama"

Of course it is somewhat emotional, but there's a lot of work that needs to be done.

Mr Chaudhry says his new portfolios need urgent attention in order to revive the Fijian economy.

He also says ministers who perform well should be given the chance to contest the next elections.

The interim Prime Minister and military Commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama has stated that one of the conditions for those accepting cabinet positions in the interim government is not to contest national elections.

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 claims Mr Chaudhry - a hostage in the 2000 coup - 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.

Meanwhile the New Zealand government says Mr Chaudhry's appointment to the new cabinet is politically unacceptable.

New Zealand's Duty Minister, Jim Anderton, says his government has supported Mr Chaudhry in the past, but he's very surprised by his latest move.

To have reported now that he's chosen to join an interim government established under military threat is terribly disappointing on the one hand and from a political perspective unacceptable.

New Zealand's Duty Minister, Jim Anderton.