9 May 2003

Fiji PM defends role in company, rejects resignation calls

10:31 am on 9 May 2003

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has defended himself and four other cabinet ministers who have been named directors and shareholders of a private company.

The existence of Duavata Initiative Limited was revealed in parliament by a Labour Party MP, Poseci Bune, who called for the resignation of Mr Qarase and the other ministers for conflict of interest.

Mr Bune said it was clear breach of the code of conduct for MPs and ministers who are forbidden to use their office for private gain.

He said it was unethical, illegal and unconstitutional and the ministers must decide whether they should continue in office or declare their interest in the company and resign from their positions.

But Mr Qarase has dismissed the allegations, saying the company is an initiative for fundraising for the ruling SDL party and not to run a business.

He says it would provide ongoing income support for the SDL with 10 percent of the proceeds going to charity.