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Labour Woes Goes Back

September 25
09:00 2014

During the last two decades, the Fiji Labour Party has gone through several episodes of dissension and crisis.

Each crisis witnessed the departure of those who would stand up to Mr Chaudhry and his inner circle, and to  Mr Chaudhry circle’s consolidation of power in the party. A number of academics left the party after Dr Bavadra’s death.

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry

In 1992, as the FLP leadership prevaricated over whether or not to boycott the general election, many indigenous Fijian members quit the party to establish the New Labour Party.

The FLP’s national council, which is dominated in its entirety by Mr Chaudhry supporters (many of whom are NFU representatives), disciplines and otherwise undermines those who dissent. Dr Tupeni Baba, who was the deputy prime minister in the People’s Coalition government and a Mr Chaudhry loyalist, was ousted from the party after 2000.

He formed the New Labour Unity Party, which won two seats at the 2001 general election – although Dr Baba himself failed to secure the Samabula/Tamavua Open seat.

Following the 2006 general election, a rift emerged between the Chaudhry and a group of senior FLP members.

These included Krishna Datt (an FLP vice-president), Poseci Bune (deputy leader), MPs Felix Anthony and Agni Deo Singh, and former senator Dr ‘Atu Emberson Bain.

It was alleged that Mr Chaudhry had nominated his cronies and a relative or two as senators over other very competent persons.

In the dispute, 17 of the 31 FLP MPs supported Mr Bune, the acting leader, over Mr Chaudhry.  It is apparent that intelligent and critical thinkers who might challenge the latter do not last in the party.

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