18 May 2002

Fiji deputy opposition leader calls for resignation of some members of cabinet

9:53 am on 18 May 2002

Fiji's deputy opposition leader has called on ministers from minority parties and independents in the SDL cabinet to resign to allow for the inclusion of the Labour Party.

The Daily Post quotes Ofa Swann as saying Labour's inclusion in cabinet is stipulated in the constitution and ordered by the High Court because it has more than ten per cent of seats in parliament.

Ms Swann, who comes from the New Labour Unity Party, says the minorities should do the honourable thing because unless they resign, the gulf between the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, will continue to widen.

But the minorities have described Ms Swann's call as absurd, saying they will not step down unless instructed by the prime minister.

The minorities in the cabinet include two ministers from the pro-coup Conservative Alliance, one from New Labour and two independents.

The Conservative Alliance minister, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, says his party would not give up their cabinet posts because Mr Chaudhry's presence in the cabinet would not be tolerated by grassroots Fijians.

The New Labour party minister, Kenneth Zinck, says the SDL government is doing fine because it has restored stability, gained international acceptance and got Fiji back in the Commonwealth.