15 Aug 2002

Fiji Prime Minister appeals to Labour to put aside self interest

4:51 pm on 15 August 2002

Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, has urged the Labour Party to put aside its differences with the government to move the nation forward.

He has called on Labour to resume the informal "talanoa" dialogue talks with the governemnt which the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, called off last week.

Mr Qarase says Mr Chaudhry also opted out of a meeting yesterday which he himself had requested.

The prime minister says the government is committed to the dialogue process to resolve two of the pressing issues in Fiji - the expriy of land leases and the 1997 Constitution.

But Mr Chaudhry has accused Mr Qarase of distorting facts to impress leaders of the Forum countries who are in Suva for their summit.

Mr Chaudhry says Mr Qarase is aware that the informal dialogue was called off for a number of reasons, including the govenrment's failure to provide information required to progress matters further.

He says Mr Qarase's tacit support for racist remarks by his minister made matters worse.