21 Sep 2005

Fiji cabinet minister re-appointed to cabinet after serving eight month jail sentence

9:43 am on 21 September 2005

Fiji's recently released former lands minister is returning to the cabinet as minister for transport and civil Aviation.

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu replaces Simione Kaitani who is being transferred to the Prime Minister's Office as minister without portfolio.

Radio Legend reports that the changes have been announced by Laisenia Qarase who had said Ratu Naiqama's would be back in cabinet on his release from a prison sentence.

Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu completed his eight-month jail sentence for his role in the Labasa army mutiny last week, having served all of it extramurally except for the first 11 days.

On Mr Kaitani's appointment as minister without portfolio, the Labour Party spokesman, Poseci Bune, says he should have resigned when the prime minister lost confidence in him and decided to strip him of his portfolio.

Mr Bune says it's all political expediency just to accommodate one person.

Meanwhile, Mr Qarase says he does not care if there is public criticism of the size of his cabinet following Ratu Naiqama's appointment.

He says the government has to make decisions and cannot please everybody.