6 Feb 2003

Fiji Labour Party deny allegations of abuse of parliamentary office

3:29 pm on 6 February 2003

The Fiji Labour Party is denying allegations of abuse of its taxpayer-funded parliamentary office.

The allegations have been made by the party's just resigned chief administrative official, John Ali, and led the prime minister's office to call on the parliamentary secretariat to carry out an investigation.

Labour's assistant secretary general, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, says the party welcomes the investigation because there was no abuse.

Mr Vyashnoi says the allegations are a political conspiracy hatched up between Mr Ali and the secretary to the Prime Minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu.

Meanwhile, the labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the government should investigate the 13-million US dollar agriculture scam instead of Mr Ali's claims.

The allegations include abuse of the parliamentary office and its facilities by a female journalist and close friend of Mr Chaudhry, Asha Lakhan.

Ms Lakhan also featured in a public scandal about abuse of the cabinet office when Mr Chaudhry was Prime Minister.