QARASE DEFENDS ROLE IN PRIVATE COMPANY

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 9) - Fiji Prime Minister
Laisenia Qarase yesterday defended himself and four cabinet ministers who have
been named directors and shareholders of a private company.

The existence of Duavata Initiative Ltd was revealed in
parliament by Labor Party Member of Parliament Poseci Bune, who called for the
resignation of Qarase and the ministers for conflicts of interest.

Bune said it was a clear breach of the code of conduct for
members of parliament and ministers who are forbidden to use their office for
private gain.

He said it was unethical, illegal and unconstitutional and the
ministers should decide whether they continue in office or declare their
interest in the company and resign from their positions.

Qarase dismissed the allegations, saying the company is an
initiative for fundraising for the ruling SDL party and not to run a business.
He says it would provide ongoing income for the SDL, with 10 percent of proceeds
going to charity.

May 9, 2003

Radio New Zealand International:
http://www.rnzi.com/

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