21 May 2006

Fiji PM surprised at Labour move to join coalition

8:52 pm on 21 May 2006

Fiji's prime minister says he was surprised by the Labour Party's decision to accept his invitation to join a multi-party cabinet.

Laisenia Qarase says the decision will present some very difficult situations for the Labour Party and its leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

Mr Qarase's has told the Sunday Times that his SDL and the Labour Party have two very different manifestos with different emphasis.

He says it would be very difficult to work within a multi-party cabinet in which he manifesto of the winning party, his SDL, would have to be the base document for the government in the next five years.

The SDL's manifesto includes the controversial Reconciliation and Unity Bill, the Qoliqoli or Traditional Fishing Grounds Bill, and bills to make changes to the constitution and land lease laws.

Mr Qarase says the second difficulty in having Labour in a multi-party cabinet would be in identifying the opposition in parliament.

The comments come just ahead of Monday's deadline for Mr Chaudhry to give Mr Qarase a list of 12 MPs from whom Mr Qarase will choose those whom he wants to include in his cabinet.

The new cabinet is due to be sworn in on Tuesday.