Ousted Minister "deeply concerned" over crisis
OUSTED MINISTER 'DEEPLY CONCERNED' OVER CRISIS
29 May 2000: 11.30pm
By Salesh Kumar
© USP Journalism Programme
The Education Minister in the ousted Chaudhry government, Pratap Chand, today expressed deep concern on the hostage crisis in Fiji.
Chand told Pacific Journalism Online: "The situation is unpredictable but we are just doing our best."
He added that the crisis was getting out of hand. He and his colleagues were only hoping that the hostages would be released immediately.
Chand said: "Once the hostages are freed, then we will decide on steps to solve the grievances."
Chand protested in a letter to the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, yesterday over the invoking of sections 106 and 99 of the 1997 constitution to effectively sack the elected Labour Party-led government.
"We are deeply concerned about this proposal since the ultimate effect of it is to legitimise the overthrow of a constitutional and democratically elected government by terrorists," the letter said.
He declined to comment on the actions of Ratu Tevita Momoedonu (Labour Minister in the Chaudhry government) in accepting the acting prime ministership on the request of the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, which enabled the dismissal of the elected government.
But he said: "[Ratu Tevita] didn't understand the legal implications of his actions."
Elected Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and at least 30 of his cabinet members and MPs have been held hostage by gunmen in Parliament for the past 10 days.