21 Apr 2006

Fiji's former deputy prime minister criticises Labour Party

10:38 am on 21 April 2006

The former deputy prime minister in the Fiji Labour Party government deposed in the Speight coup has become one of the party's strongest critics.

Dr Tupeni Baba, who is fighting next month's general election for the ruling SDL party, has warned indigenous Fijians to be suspicious of Labour's actions, saying its leader Mahendra Chaudhry does not consult them or the Great Council of Chiefs.

The Fiji Sun quotes Dr Baba as saying that when he was prime minister, Mr Chaudhry bulldozed his decisions through when it came to the processing of indigenous resources such as mahogany.

Dr Baba said although the issue was important to the indigenous people, Mr Chaudhry did not consult with Fijian members of this cabinet.

Dr Baba says indigenous Fijians need to be very careful of the election promises Mr Chaudhry is now making because his style of leadership said otherwise.

He says during the twelve months the Labour government was in power there were two cabinets - the formal one and an informal one made up of Indian ministers only.

A Labour Party spokesman, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, has rejected Dr Baba's accusations, saying he is making them out of spite for his loss in the 2001 general elections.