17 Mar 2004

Fiji PM says latest Labour challenge is to frustrate his government programme

8:03 am on 17 March 2004

Fiji's prime minister says the latest legal case brought against him by the Labour Party is intended to frustrate the efforts of his government to re-build the country.

Labour has filed a writ asking the high court to declare that Laisenia Qarase did not negotiate in good faith when he invited the FLP to join in a multi-party cabinet last year.

The case centres on what Labour says are the offer of minor portfolios and the exclusion of Mahendra Chaudhry and other senior party figures.

Mr Qarase has told the Fiji Times the choice of ministers in the cabinet is his prerogative and he will not allow negotiations on this issue.

He says Mr Chaudhry's action is a delaying tactic and shows Labour is not interested in joining a multi-party cabinet.

Mr Qarase says Labour should come out honestly and frankly, and tell the people that they do not want to be part of the government.

Mr Qarase says the issue should not affect the talanoa talks as discussions are centres on land, the sugar industry and constitutional issues.