SUVA, Fiji Islands (March 14, 2001 –FijiLive)---Mahendra Chaudhry was sacked today as Prime Minister just hours before Ratu Tevita Momoedonu was appointed to the job.

Acting President Ratu Josefa Iloilo told Chaudhry in a letter that he had been dismissed because, by advising Iloilo to dissolve Parliament last week, he had accepted that he no longer had the mandate of Parliament.

Chaudhry urged Iloilo to reconsider his decision and labeled the move unconstitutional and unlawful.

"The purported appointment of Ratu Tevita Momoedonu as Prime Minister is unconstitutional and unlawful because firstly, I have not vacated the office of Prime Minister. Secondly, Ratu Tevita has not been nominated by the People’s Coalition nor has his entitlement to the position been tested on the floor of the House of Representatives."

"It is clear the decision is premised on incorrect assumptions, deliberate or otherwise, that I had accepted I no longer enjoyed the confidence of the House because I had offered to advise him to dissolve the House of Representatives so as to make way for fresh elections to resolve the political impasse facing the nation."

Chaudhry said he was told he was being dismissed under Section 109 (1) of the Constitution. This was confirmed later by Momoedonu.

He said Iloilo had written: "Therefore, acting in my own judgment under Section 109(1) of the 1997 Constitution … I hereby notify you that I have decided to dismiss you from your appointment as Prime Minister of Fiji with effect from 14 March, 2001."

Chaudhry said his lawyers had advised him that the acting President’s decision is badly advised and unlawful.

"It is correct I had conveyed to His Excellency that I was prepared to advise a dissolution of Parliament. I had done this in order to assist him find a way out of the constitutional difficulties confronting him. My offer of assistance was made in good faith and with a view to helping him find a solution to the nation’s problems which was within the law."

"But it takes a considerable leap of logic for the Acting President to now conclude that this advice means I do not believe I have the confidence of the House of Representatives. The best way to ascertain this is to summon the House of Representatives. Why is it that those who advise the acting President are unwilling to consider testing this option on the floor of the House?"

"I had not advised the acting President that I had lost the confidence of the House of Representatives."

"The necessary conditions under which the Acting President may act under simply do not exist. I am frankly astounded that his advisers believe otherwise."

For additional reports from Fijlive, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/Fijilive.

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