29 Aug 2003

Fiji leaders to ask Supreme Court to resolve Cabinet impasse

3:26 pm on 29 August 2003

Fiji political leaders met a deadline for talks on a multi-party Cabinet today by jointly appealing for the Supreme Court to resolve their impasse over the issue.

The Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, met the Fiji Labour Party Leader, Mahendra Chaudhry and both later called for President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to seek a ruling from the Supreme Court.

Mr Qarase says he told Mr Chaudhry today that he was proceeding to implement the multi-party Cabinet as he's required to do.

He says he gave Mr Chaudhry a list of 14 people he had selected from Labour for inclusion in a Cabinet of 36.

Mr Qarase says he is asking the president to invoke his authority and ask the Supreme Court to rule on Labour's entitlement.

The Prime Minister says if the court upholds Labour's position that it is entitled to 47 percent, or 17 positions, in a 36-person Cabinet, he will consider three further selections from Labour.

A spokesman for Labour says the party believes its case will stand up in court and it wants a ruling before it agrees to the list of 14.

The Prime Minister has stressed he will not bring Labour MPs, Dr Ganesh Chand and Poseci Bune, in his Cabinet.