29 Jun 2006

Fiji Labour Party President defends Mahendra Chaudhry

5:45 am on 29 June 2006

The public row at the highest levels of the Fiji Labour Party is escalating with its president defending its leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, over his proposed list of nominees for appointment to the Senate.

At issue is the list of eight names Mr Chaudhry has given to the opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, to be forwarded to the president without telling his management board about it.

Labour president, Jokapeci Koroi, who is one of those on the list, has defended Mr Chaudhry's actions saying it is his right and prerogative under the Constitution.

But senior party MP, Felix Anthony, has told Fiji TV that Labour's entitlement in the Senate belongs to the party and not to any individual, including the party leader."

Mr Anthony says "no one can play God in the Labour Party and if there is to be a party list, it should go through the party machinery."

Mr Anthony says for a party that has continually preached democracy, transparency and accountability, it should start practising it from within.

Labour vice president and cabinet minister, Krishna Datt, says he does not believe anyone has absolute powers and leaders are expected to consult.

The acting party leader, Poseci Bune, late yesterday overruled Mr Chaudhry and withdrew the list of senate nominees in a communication to Mr Beddoes.

The move came after a management board meeting which Mr Chaudhry did not attend because he had left for an undisclosed destination several hours earlier.