15 Oct 2003

Fiji Labour MPs accused of disrespect of indigneous Fijian institutions

8:43 am on 15 October 2003

A Fiji government minister has attacked the Labour Party and called on its MPs to seek counselling for showing disrespect to indigenous institutions.

The minister for sport, Isireli Leweniqila, was speaking during debate on the Family Law Bill.

He said Labour MPs had tried to undermine indigenous institutions like the Fijian Affairs Board and the Great Council of Chiefs by suggesting that parliament should ignore their views.

He accused Labour MPs of being boycott fanatics after its members on the judiciary, law and order committee boycotted meetings for the last three weeks after attending for more than a year and collecting substantial allowances in the process.

Mr Leweniqila said their protest was against the chair of the committee, Ratu Rakuita Vakalalabure, who is facing serious coup-related charges for being sworn into George Speight's failed administration.

Mr Leweniqila asked if Labour would also boycott parliament if Ratu Rakuita presided over the House of which he is deputy Speaker.

He said the Labour Party should be reminded that those it implicated in the coup are firm in their belief that the current political structure is the right one for Fiji.

Mr Leweniqila said that in his maiden speech after the 1999 general election, he had told parliament that the Chaudry government was the best recipe for a coup and history had proved him right.