18 Aug 2004

Member of Reeves Commission says Fiji multi-party cabinet provisions won't work

10:11 am on 18 August 2004

One of the three commissioners whose report helped draw up Fiji's 1997 Constitution says a multi-party cabinet was never one of their recommendations.

Dr Brij Lal has told Radio Fiji that the multi party cabinet was introduced by the joint parliamentary select committee which drew up the constitution.

Dr Lal says the three members of the Reeves Commission knew it would not work, rather it was "the prescription for political paralysis."

He says the commissioners held widespread consultations around the world and "came to the conclusion that the best way of power sharing was either through multi-ethnic parties or multi-ethnic coalitions."

Dr Lal says the multi-party cabinet concept "is very noble in intent but it only works if there is a willingness on the part of leaders to make it work."

But, he says, if there are "two politicians who have difficulty agreeing on even the time of day, who are as apart in their political ideologies as these two (Qarase and Chaudhry) are, it simply won't work."

Dr Lal says his view is that if this is not going to work "it is time to revisit this provision in the constitution because it is better to have a divorce than continue in a festering relationship broken beyond repair."