19 Mar 2003

Labour and Opposition Leader in Fiji at loggerheads

4:10 pm on 19 March 2003

A row has broken out in Fiji between the Opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, and the Fiji Labour Party.

The row centres around Labour's forcing its MP, Poseci Bune, into the chair of the Parliamentary public accounts committee after it boycotted meetings under Mr Beddoes original appointment, Ofa Swann.

This chair is usually held by an opposition member and the appointment made after consultation with the Opposition leader.

But in this case Mr Bune was appointed by the Speaker without reference to Mr Beddoes.

Mr Beddoes says the Labour Party should make up its mind whether it is in opposition or in the government.

He says if they are in government, they have no right to take up this chair.

But if they are in opposition, he is ready to step down and allow the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, to take up the position.

Mr Beddoes says he is seeking legal remedies to the impasse but Mr Bune should resign because his appointment is in contempt of parliament's standing orders.