17 Jul 2013

UFDF expects resolution to Fiji Labour Party suspension

4:42 pm on 17 July 2013

The United Front for a Democratic Fiji says the group is not affected by the suspension of the Fiji Labour Party for failing to pay the Fiji Sun for publishing its asset declarations.

The Labour Party was told to pay 3,000 US dollars by last Monday amid a dispute over tendering the asset publication which is still before the Commerce Commission.

While being suspended, the Labour Party can, by decree, not operate or hold itself out to be a political party.

A spokesperson for the UFDF, which comprises four political parties and the Council of Trade Unions, Mick Beddoes, told Beverley Tse he doubts the suspension will have any effect on the group.

MICK BEDDOES: I suspect that when Mr Chaudhry returns from overseas, where he's currently at, he will obviously work towards resolving this matter. So at this time it's not going to have any effect on the movement.

BEVERLEY TSE: What are your thoughts about the Fiji Labour Party being suspended for not paying the sum owed to the Fiji Sun?

MB: Well, on a personal note, I think the interest in some political parties to have to pay it in the first place is ridiculous. And if you go back and look at the way the advertisements were done, the parties themselves were not involved in the process, they did not contact the newspapers to print it, and in some cases, I'm not sure which party it was, but one of them is paying for blank pages. Now, how careless is that in terms of such an important matter? So, for me, I think it's dreadful that this is what they're doing, especially when we consider that the regime itself has failed to meet any and almost all of the deadlines it set with regard to the process leading up to a promised general election in 2014.

BT: Now, the Fiji Labour Party has been given 60 days to pay up or it faces deregistration. What's your advice for Mahendra Chaudhry and the Labour Party?

MB: Mr Chaudry doesn't need anybody's advice. He knows exactly what he needs to do and what he should do when the time comes. When you consider the fact that Mr Chaudhry was overseas and he's probably likely to deal with it on his return the strict adherence to the deadlines that the regime is dishing out is laughable given, like I said, that they themselves have failed to meet any of the timelines that they set in this entire process. So it's clear that the intent of the suspension of the Labour Party is for political gain, and it's just an ongoing part of the agenda of the regime to bring pressure to bear on the registered political parties.

BT: If the Fiji party is deregistered, what will happen to the United Front for a Democratic Fiji? Can it function without the Fiji Labour Party being registered?

MB: Look, I think that's a little bit of crystal ball gazing there. I think this matter will be resolved by the Fiji Labour Party once Mr Chaudhry returns and then we'll deal with it when that time comes. In the meantime, I don't see this having any effect on the United Front.