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By Andrea Waqa Wansolwara Online

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 12, 2001 – Wansolwara Online/Pasifik Nius)---Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry has attacked the swearing in of Laisenia Qarase's Cabinet ministers, accusing him of acting like a "dictator" and above the law.

He said Labour would "most probably" take the issue to the Court of Appeal.

Indo-Fijian MPs were left out of the Cabinet while two ministers were appointed from the ultra-nationalist Conservative Alliance.

The Alliance supports May 19, 2000 coup front man George Speight, who is being detained on Nukulau Island, off Suva, on treason charges.

"Qarase is acting like a dictator. He is blatantly defying the constitution. He has no respect and regard for the rule of law," Chaudhry said.

He said Fiji was becoming like a "little Indonesia" in the Pacific, where the country is run by corrupt politicians backed by the military.

Chaudhry also denied a claim by Qarase that Labour had made unacceptable conditions for joining a multi-party government, saying he had made no conditions.

"I don't think that there is any sane reason why we were excluded. It is simply an excuse to keep us out," Chaudhry said.

"To my mind it seems that there is perhaps an attempt to cover up the 14 months of mismanagement and the scam that his government has been scandalized with.

"We all know that millions of dollars of public funds have been very lavishly spent by the Qarase regime and (there have been) election irregularities that have not yet been exposed."

Chaudhry said that FLP's exclusion was also part of Qarase's "racist" stand and he had marginalized the Indo-Fijians, the 44 percent of the population who had voted for Labour.

"The will of the people has been subverted by one individual who is acting like a dictator and if people walk along the streets they will find that 90 percent of the people do not like Qarase."

Chaudhry said that Labour would play it cool while at the same time reactivate its international campaign.

"The Commonwealth and the United Nations must realize that unless they make a very firm stand the people of Fiji will continue to suffer at the hands of the dictators," Chaudhry said.

The Labour Party has confirmed that they, by next week, would most probably take up the Cabinet issue in the Court of Appeal.

Before the swearing in of Qarase's Cabinet ministers Wednesday, Chaudhry wrote a letter to the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, asking him not to participate and witness the ceremony, as it was unconstitutional.

Under the 1997 Constitution section 99(3) the Prime Minister is expected to establish a multi-party Cabinet. In section 99(5), the Prime Minister must invite any party that holds more than 10 percent of the seats.

The Members of Fiji’s Cabinet


Assistant Ministers:

Title -- 3423 POLITICS: Chaudhry slams 'dictator' move, considers court action Date -- 12 September 2001 Byline -- Andrea Waqa Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Wansolwara Online, 12/9/01 Copyright -- USP Journalism Status -- Unabridged

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