31 Mar 2004

NZ satisfied with Fiji process to overcome cabinet wrangle

5:26 am on 31 March 2004

The New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark is satisfied the Fiji Government of Laisenia Qarase has complied with the constitution in the ongoing wrangle over the inclusion of Mahendra Chaudhry's Labour Party in his Cabinet.

Labour is entitled to be part of Cabinet because it won more than ten percent of the vote in the 2001 elections.

Prime Minister Qarase has offered Labour 14 seats, but it wants 17.

Mr Qarase has also refused Mr Chaudhry a Cabinet place.

At a joint media conference with Mr Qarase during his visit to Wellington Helen Clark says New Zealand is satisfied with the process of trying to resolve the dispute.

"It's abided by court decisions. There seems to be ongoing litigation but that's a constitutional process. We wouldn't want to get involved in taking sides in that. What we are satisfied with is that there is a good commitment to the process."