20 Aug 2003

FLP leader accuses Fiji PM of bullying over cabinet names

7:24 am on 20 August 2003

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says he will not be bullied on the issue of a multi-party cabinet.

Mr Chaudhry made the comment after the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, gave him a 48-hour ultimatum effective from the time of his return from a trip abroad.

Mr Qarase said Mr Chaudhry had to give him the names of Labour MPs he wants included in the cabinet within that time and if Mr Chaudhry did not meet the deadline, it would mean that Labour would be taking up the opposition.

But Mr Chaudhry says there is no question of him being bound by the deadline.

He says negotiations haven't been completed on the number of cabinet positions Labour should have as well as what they will be.

Mr Chaudhry says he does not dispute the prime minister's right to allocate portfolios, but Mr Qarase should be fair and balanced, and recognise the political mandate of the Labour Party.