22 Jun 2006

Fiji's Chaudhry warns of possible coalition collapse

3:44 pm on 22 June 2006

The head of Fiji's Labour party says Labour could withdraw from the coalition government if its affirmative action programmes continue to be race-based.

Mahendra Chaudhry made the threat after the release of a damning Human Rights Commission report which says the programmes are biased towards indigenous Fijians.

Complaints from the Labour Party, the Citizens Constitutional Forum and the Fiji Teachers Union prompted the commission to investigate the schemes.

The Labour leader says the programmes violate the constitution because they are based on race, not need.

He says the party will put pressure on the new multi-party cabinet to rectify the situation.

"All vestiges of racial discrimination must disappear from the affirmative action programmes and the Social Justice Act must be amended. Our participation in the multi-party cabinet will depend on that."

Mr Chaudhry says that racial discrimination has only been a dominant feature of affirmative action programmes in the country since the SDL came into power.