18 Mar 2004

Fiji minister Zinck fends off expulsion bid from own party

4:12 pm on 18 March 2004

Fiji's New Labour Unity Party has failed in its attempt to oust the labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, from his parliamentary seat and office.

The party has been seeking Mr Zinck's expulsion ever since he broke ranks to join the government after the 2001 general election and take up a cabinet position.

But the speaker of parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, has ruled that he is not convinced that New Labour had made the right decision in expelling Mr Zinck from the party.

This is because the official who signed Mr Zinck's expulsion letter, Tomasi Tokalauvere, had himself been expelled from the party the same year.

Ratu Epeli has told New Labour to sort out their differences among themselves.

But New Labour president, Ratu Meli Vesikula, says Ratu Epeli is not doing his job properly because Mr Zinck should not have been in parliament in the first place.

Under Fiji's constitution, any MP who is expelled from his party or defects to another automatically loses his seat.