4 Aug 2004

Fiji health minister says multi-party cabinet is unworkable

9:10 am on 4 August 2004

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is setting a deadline for the Labour Party to join his multi-party cabinet or stay out.

Mr Qarase has told Radio Legend that Mahendra Chaudhry needs to make a decision as soon as possible because he (Mr Qarase) has "completed consultations, made decisions on the allocation of portfolios and which Labour MPs should hold them."

Mr Qarase says "the decision is up to Mr Chaudhry on whether he wants Labour to join the cabinet or to stay out."

He says that "decision is long overdue and should be made as soon as possible."

Meanwhile, Mr Qarase's health minister, Solomone Naivalu, has spoken out against a multi-party cabinet in parliament, describing it as unworkable.

"The Fijian people's welfare and well-being is extremely important because they make up more than 50 per cent of the population and own more than ninety per cent of the land, sea and forest resources. Whilst we accept everyone else in this country, the political governance of Fiji must always remain in Fijian hands. The Labour Party's well documented attitude towards Fiji and the Fijian people is proof that a multi-party cabinet is unworkable and the Constitution must be reviewed and changed."