19 Sep 2003

Fiji Labour leader rejects Qarase comments on multi-party cabinet row

10:29 am on 19 September 2003

The Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry says he will not be bullied into accepting the Prime Minister's offer of 14 cabinet positions to junior Labour MPs in the multi-party cabinet.

Mr Chaudhry was responding to Laisenia Qarase's national broadcast Wednesday night, in which he said the offer is constitutionally correct and that Labour has constantly frustrated the formation of the cabinet.

But Mr Chaudhry says the Prime Minister 's offer is outside the spirit and intent of the constitution, and that a cabinet of 36 ministries is too bloated for a small country like Fiji.

While the entitlement issue is now with the Supreme Court, he says there are two other key issues...

"For the nature of the portfolios that he's offering us, they are not ministerial portfolios, they are very minor divisions of existing ministeries, then we also have the choice of minsters. The Prime Minister says that it is his perogative that is fine, I take that point, but then consulations on such appointments must be held in a genuine fashion, and by excluding senior members of my party is clearly demonstrating bad faith."

Mahendra Chaudhry