9 Jul 2004

Fiji Labour Party accused of trying to blackmail the government over multi-party cabinet

10:52 am on 9 July 2004

One of the three commissioners who helped frame Fiji's 1997 Constitution says the Labour Party is trying to blackmail the government by taking the multi-party cabinet case to court.

The Fiji Sun reports that this is the view of Tomasi Vakatora who helped draw up the constitution with Sir Paul Reeves of New Zealand and Dr Brij Lal of Australia.

Mr Vakatora says it is evident that the multi-party case is a ploy by the Labour Party to destabilise the government and frighten away investors.

He says Labour is sending a message that there is political instability in Fiji when there is not.

Mr Vakatora says the Constitution Review Commission had recommended limiting the number of ministers and assistant ministers because they had foreseen the kind of situation developing now.

But Mr Vakatora says this had been rejected by Sitiveni Rabuka and his SVT party.

Mr Vakatora says one option open to the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, because of the impasse over the multi-party cabinet is to dissolve parliament so the government is elected with a new majority.

The Supreme Court ruling on the multi-party cabinet case will be delivered today.