FIJI'S LABOR LEADER SAYS ANNOUNCEMENT OF BUDGET IS ILLEGAL

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MELBOURNE, Australia (Oct. 31, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's Labor Party leader and deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry says the announcement of the 2003 budget next week is illegal.

The budget will address the controversial affirmative action plan for indigenous Fijians and Rotumans, aimed at bringing them to economic par with other communities.

Chaudhry says the composition of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's government has been declared illegal by the courts and any spending of public money by his administration is unlawful.

"If you don't have a constitutional government, than that government doesn't have the right to spend public money," he says.

FIJI'S PM SAYS LABOR LEADER SHOULD FACE CHARGES

MELBOURNE, Australia (Oct. 31, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase says his deposed predecessor, Mahendra Chaudhry, should be charged with contempt of court for describing the composition of the current government as illegal.

Chaudhry claims the announcement of the 2003 national budget by the Qarase government next week is illegal because the Court of Appeal has declared the composition of his cabinet unconstitutional. Qarase says Chaudhry's accusation is unsubstantiated as the government’s appeal against the finding is still pending before the Supreme Court.

Justice Minister Qoriniasi Bale says Chaudhry's comment is wrong in law, however no legal action will be taken against him.

Bale says the current government is legal and Chaudhry is merely fighting his way into the cabinet.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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