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Chaudhry Slams 'Dictator' Move

Chaudhry Slams 'Dictator' Move, Considers Court Action

By ANDREA WAQA: September 12, 2001 Wansolwara Online

SUVA: Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry attacked the swearing in of Laisenia Qarase's cabinet ministers today, accusing him of acting like a "dictator" and above the law.

He said Labour would "most probably" take the issue to the Court of Appeal.

Indo-Fijian MPs were left out of the cabinet while two ministers were appointed from the ultra-nationalist Conservative Alliance.

The alliance supports coup frontman George Speight who is detained on Nukulau Island, off Suva, on treason charges.

"Qarase is acting like a dictator, he is blatantly and defying the constitution. He has no respect and regard for the rule of law," he said.

He said Fiji was becoming like a "little Indonesia" in the Pacific where the country was run by corrupt politicians backed by the military.

Chaudhry also denied a claim by Qarase that Labour had made unacceptable conditions for joining a multi-party government, saying he had made no conditions.

"I don't think that there is any sane reason why we were excluded. It is simply an excuse to keep us out," Chaudhry said.

"To my mind it seems that there is perhaps an attempt to cover up the 14 months of mismanagement and the scam that his government has been scandalised with.

"We all know that millions of dollars of public funds have been very lavishly spent by the Qarase regime and election irregularities that have not yet been exposed."

Chaudhry said that FLP's exclusion was also part of Qarase's "racist" stand and he had marginalised the Indon-Fijians, the 44 percent of the population who had voted for Labour.

"The will of the people has been subverted by one individual who is acting like a dictator and if people walk along the streets they will find that 90 percent of the people do not like Qarase."

Chaudhry said that Labour would play it cool while at the same time reactivate its international campaign.

"The Commonwealth and the United Nations must realise that unless they make a very firm stand the people of Fiji will continue to suffer at the hands of the dictators," Chaudhry said.

The Labour Party has confirmed that they by next week it would invoke the swearing in of the cabinet and most probably take up the issue in the Court of Appeal.

Before the swearing in of Qarase's cabinet ministers, he wrote a letter to the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, asking him not to participate and witness the ceremony as it was unconstitutional.

Under the 1997 Constitution section 99(3) the Prime Minister is expected to establish a multi-party cabinet. In section 99(5), the Prime Minister must invite any party that holds more than 10 percent of the seats.


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