19 Jun 2006

Labour withdrawal from Fiji Cabinet could be discussed at national council meeting

5:46 am on 19 June 2006

A rebel cabinet minister in Fiji says questions over whether the Labour Party party should withdraw from the coalition government will be raised at a meeting of party officials.

Labour MP Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi - who could face the sack for publicly attacking the government - says the issue will be discussed at Labour's upcoming national council meeting.

There are reports that elements in Labour want to derail the recently formed multi-party cabinet, although the deputy leader, Poseci Bune, denies any split in the ranks.

Labour's branch representatives are largely members of the National Farmers Union, the power base of leader Mahendra Chaudhry, who chose to remain outside cabinet.

Mr Vayeshnoi, who holds the energy portfolio, says any decision by the council will be binding.

"It is the governing body of the Fiji Labour Party and it needs to be updated on matters of national importance. The party has laid down rules in the party's constitution and once the decision is made it is binding."

Mr Bune says however that he doubts the matter will come up, as Labour has no reason to pull out of the coalition.