4 Feb 2003

Fiji's Labour party leader called upon to step down

6:15 pm on 4 February 2003

The former chief administrative officer of the Fiji Labour party is now calling on its leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, to step down.

John Ali, who resigned last week after alleging there were illegal activities at the party's parliamentary office, says more common sense should have been shown by the leader.

Mr Ali also says the autocratic attitude of Mr Chaudhry and his refusal to talk to the government and compromise over land issues is preventing progress.

"It would be best for him to step down and let somebody run the show, because we need someone who's ready to compromise, who's ready to talk, willing to talk, but if you take a militant attitude, then nothing will be achieved."

Mr Ali is alleging that two taxpayer-funded party employees, who had positions at the parliamentary office, were instead working at the National Farmers Union.

He also says a journalist, Asha Lakhan, who has been closely linked with Mr Chaudhry, freely used the office facilities.

Mr Chaudhry says Mr Ali's statements are lies and he is considering legal action.