18 Jul 2002

Fiji prime minister rejects criticism from NGO Coalition on Human Rights

10:25 am on 18 July 2002

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says elements within the country are bent on discrediting what he describes as the "marvellous" work being done by his SDL government.

Radio Fiji says Mr Qarase was responding to allegations made by the NGO Coalition on Human Rights in an open letter to the prime minister published in Fiji newspapers.

In the letter, the NGO Coalition chair, the Rev Akuila Yabaki, said Mr Qarase's failure to include the Labour Party in his cabinet according to the provisions of the costitution is not an example of the rule of law and good governance and is in breach of the Cotonou Agreement between the ACP and the European Union.

The Rev Yabaki also cited the government's failure to re-call the pre-coup parliament as ordered by the Appeal Court and the 13 milliuon US dollar agriculture scam as further examples of the breach of law.

He said as the next president of the ACP group. Mr Qarase had an obligation to ensure the Fiji fully compies with its commitments under the Cotonou partnership.

But Mr Qarase says negative outbursts and publicity from people like the Rev Yabaki on the eve of the ACP summit in Nadi create a negative picture of the country overseas.

He says the views of the critics are misguided because they are based on incorrect or twisted information.