7 Aug 2003

Mulit-party Fiji cabinet impasse to go back to Supreme Court

2:21 pm on 7 August 2003

A report from Fiji says the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, and the Labour Party leader, Mahendra 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-members cabinet while Mr Chaudhry says it is entitled to 17 seats 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 responsibilities.

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 Mr Qarase, Mr Chaudhry says Labour is not for a bloated cabinet but suggested 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.