21 Jun 2006

Fiji Labour leader says Labour cabinet ministers must toe the party line

9:33 am on 21 June 2006

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is insisting that FLP ministers in the multi-party cabinet must vote along party lines on all major issues.

Mr Chaudhry has told the Daily Post that the Labour Party has its own identity and this would be fully maintained.

He says Labour has not become part of the SDL and would continue to be guided by its own conscience and the national interest in considering legislation and other matters before parliament.

Mr Chaudhry says Labour Party ministers in the cabinet should have a free hand in running their ministries and should be guided by the FLP's manifesto for the 2006 general election.

He has reiterated that the government must put on hold all controversial legislation that will create instability and division.

The rebel FLP minister for energy, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, has already said his allegiance is with Labour and he will vote along party lines.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says it would be absurd to have a part of his cabinet vote against government policies.

Mr Qarase told parliament last Friday that the manifestos of both parties converge in most areas and he would set up a cabinet subcommittee this week involving both the SDL and Labour ministers to look at contentious issues.