7 Aug 2003

Fiji's multi-party cabinet seat issue may go back to Supreme Court

10:26 am on 7 August 2003

A report from Fiji says the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the Labour leader, Mahedra Chaudhry, will go back to the Supreme Court for a ruling on how many seats each side should have in a multi-party cabinet.

Mr Qarase has offered Labour 14 seats in an expanded 36 member cabinet while Mr Chaudhry says it is entitled to 17 in such an arrangement.

A joint statement after a meeting of the two men yesterday said the prime minister is vested with full authority by the constitution to establish a multi-party cabinet and to assign portfolio resonsibilities.

The Daily Post quotes its sources as saying the two men did not agree on how many seats each side should have but will decide to let the Supreme Court resolve the impasse.

In his latest letter to the prime minister, Mr Chaudhry has said Labour is not for a bloated cabinet, suggesting limiting the number to 26.

Of these, he says, Labour should have 12 seats and Mr Qarase's SDL party 14.

The two men will meet again next week after Mr Chaudhry consults with the Labour caucus and management board this weekend.