QARASE THROWS UP HANDS AT CHAUDHRY DEMANDS

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, June 2) - Fiji’s prime minister has reportedly accused the Labor Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry of trying to destroy the nation because of his personal agenda.

According to Fiji TV, the accusation follows Labor’s decision to boycott the new joint parliamentary select committee to resolve land lease issues.

Labor had already been boycotting the joint parliamentary select committee set up to rescue the ailing sugar industry.

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase says he has already made concessions to Mr Chaudhry on the sugar issue but the Labor leader’s demands are too unreasonable.

On the land lease select committee, Mr Chaudhry says Mr Qarase’s unilateral decision to reserve 60 percent of all leases on native land for indigenous Fijians means there’s no point in bothering with the committee.

Mr Qarase says he has never said that and that Mr Chaudhry has misunderstood the issue.

Mr Qarase says he "simply cannot manage the affairs of the nation on the basis of negotiations with another party" when Mr Chaudhry has a personal agenda to destroy Fiji.

Both select committees were agreed to during recent "talanoa" talks mediated by Dr Sitiveni Halapua of Hawaii’s East West Center in April.

June 3, 2004

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

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