11 Apr 2005

More details of rift between Fiji's ruling SDL party and its junior coalition partner

7:03 am on 11 April 2005

More details have emerged of a rift between Fiji's ruling SDL and its junior coalition partner, the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua party.

The rift became public when, in a surprise move, the Conservative Alliance MP Manasa Tuqia refused the lands portfolio vacated by the jailed minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, and it went instead to George Speight's brother, Samisoni Tikonisau.

The Fiji Times quotes a Conservative Alliance source as saying that among the demands put by Mr Tuqia to the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase was that all those involved in the 2000 coup be pardoned.

Another demand was that all three Conservative Alliance MP's, Mr Tikonisau, Josateki Vula and Mr Tuqia himself, be given ministerial or assistant ministerial portfolios.

A third demand was the SDL should not contest the by-election for the Cakaudrove West seat left vacant by the jailing of the Conservative Alliance MP and former deputy Speaker, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure.

Mr Tuqia had wanted only a Conservative Alliance candidate to contest the seat.