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Chaudhry To Be PM If Labour Wins

Issue No: 1000 3 August 2001

Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry is the Labour Party's choice for Prime Ministership if the Labour Party wins the election.

Under the Constitution, the Prime Minister is appointed by the President. The person so appointed should have the support of a majority of the members of the House of Representatives.

Chaudhry stated earlier that ethnic Fijians were ready and willing to accept an ethnic Indian as a Prime Minister if he was capable of delivering the people from their miseries.

Labour's President, Jokapeci Koroi stated on Saturday that the opponents of Chaudhry did everything possible to paint a negative picture of Chaudhry. But the grassroots support for Chaudhry continued to swell. Koroi stated:

In order to further isolate Chaudhry, every possible attack has been and continues to be made against his personality and character. He is even being blamed as THE cause of the Coup, the division and devastation in the country today, when instead he was a tragic victim. While it may be made to appear that a Labour party led by a new person of indigenous ethnicity would pave the way for easing tensions and better the opposition orchestrated by foes, this is a trap to divide and weaken the Fiji Labour Party at its heart. We must not be fooled by people hinting that their attitudes may be influenced by a change of a leader. They will not accept Chaudhry and furthermore will not accept a Labour-led government of any sort. In 1987, under an indigenous Fijian leader they wrestled power away forcefully and again in 2000, with Mr Chaudhry at the helm, they again acted illegally and without the mandate of the people. I remind you again ladies and gentlemen, as a party we have offered on both occasions (1987 and 2000), two gentlemen with exemplary work ethics and humanitarian attitudes. What we haven't offered are sauve, executive-type, high-flyers. WHY?.because we are a party "of the people for the people". I suggest that the primary difficulty which others have with us lie firmly within the people-based policies that form the foundations of the Labour party's principles. The scud missiles persistently directed at us with the 'race card' labels are foils. They conceal a much larger reality and that is, Labour party policies threaten the interests of the elite and its aspirants, because we are THE party for ALL people.

Irrespective of who is elected as the Labour leader, our detractors will continue unabated to oppose and discredit Labour, its policies, its leader and his personality, etc. A period of co-operation or going a bit easy will only be a pretence in the initial stages if Labour elects a new leader to calm the opponents. To expect anything else would be extremely naïve.

By inventing such ploys now, our opponents and its fringe groups hope to divide and weaken Labour as a political force. They are out to exploit some within Labour who out of ambition, rivalry or personal agendas can be expected to deliver substantial boon to their foes. But the fact is that the unity and discipline within Labour has hitherto remained intact, despite all the traumas. And the fact is also that under its present leadership, Labour remains the single most popular political party among voters in Fiji. Given this combination of solidarity and leadership team, Labour will continue to be the dominant force in the foreseeable future, and the aim of those seeking to break up our winning combination will remain but a pipedream.

Should we, the FLP today, fall into the trap of changing or attempting to change the leader now, on the mistaken notion of appeasing racist sentiments and gaining some acceptability by its opponents who did the unthinkable to destabilise and depose it unlawfully, then the FLP would be taking the first step towards its own fracture and demise. It would be yielding to the temptation of illusionary immediate gain at the expense of its founding egalitarian principles of social, political and economic justice for all, multi-racialism and non discrimination on grounds of race, colour, gender, creed or religion.

Labour would then unravel the fabric of values and ideals that compose the core of its being as a democratic socialist Party. It will become the butt of criticism and jokes each time thenceforth if it ever tried to oppose racial discrimination. It will lose its credibility.

Its leadership will become divided and the base of its voter support inevitably erode. All this is not to say as a Party the FLP should not honestly look at the question of leadership from time to time and engage in the healthy process of internal elections. But the very thought of using race as a factor in any such consideration instead of merit should be shunned at all times.

A good deal of the thrust at the present time for a change is clearly racially-biased and externally influenced by opponents of Labour. When any house is under siege as Labour has been throughout its history, it sorely needs solidarity and unflinching loyalty within the leadership ranks and not division on leadership quarrels.



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