22 Jun 2006

Chaudhry threatens to pull out of multi-party Fiji government

8:11 pm on 22 June 2006

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has threatened to pull his MPs out of the multi-party cabinet unless the government immediately brings its affirmative action programmes into line with the constitution.

The threat follows a report by the Fiji Human Rights Commission that the affirmative action programmes are unconstitutional and discriminatory under the country's Social Justice Act.

Mr Chaudhry has told Radio legend that he will write to the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, calling on him to immediately remove all vestiges of racial discrimination from all its affirmative action programmes.

Mr Chaudhry says the Labour Party has always fought against racial discrimination and they would be seen as hypocrites if they continue to participate in a government which practices and promotes it.

But some Labour Party ministers are quoted as saying that nothing will be gained by keeping out of the cabinet.

They say that the issues raised by the Human Rights Commission are important but they can be resolved through consultation with the prime minister.

Mr Qarase says the government had already made the decision to review its affirmative action programmes and this was mentioned during the president's address when he opened parliament over two weeks ago.