24 Jul 2008

Fiji interim PM says Chaudhry stays despite differences over tax issues

6:53 pm on 24 July 2008

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says he hasn't asked the interim finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, to resign.

This comes after Fijilive quoted sources as saying that military council members had asked for Mr Chaudhry to be dismissed.

But Commodore Bainimarama has told Radio Fiji that Mr Chaudhry's absence from key talks on Wednesday night may have led to speculation about his standing.

The meeting dropped a tax on water bottling companies which had been advocated by Mr Chaudhry.

In March, the military council was reported to be demanding that Mr Chaudhry step aside while his tax affairs were assessed.

Allegations of impropriety were levelled at him by the Fiji Times which prompted Mr Chaudhry to sue the paper for five billion US dollars.

An investigation instigated by the interim regime cleared him of any wrongdoing.