22 May 2006

Fiji PM expected to announce multi-party cabinet line-up this afternoon

3:18 pm on 22 May 2006

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, is expected to announce a multi-party cabinet comprising of MPs from his SDL and the Labour Party this afternoon.

Mr Qarase has told Radio Legend that he will speak with the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, before going public with his cabinet line up.

He says he hopes all the cabinet ministers from both parties will be sworn in together at Government House tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Qarase will make the final decision on who will be included in the multi-party cabinet after considering the list handed in by Mr Chaudhry.

He has offered Labour the portfolios of agriculture, health, commerce and industry, labour and industrial relations, local government and urban development, energy and mineral resources, and environment.

Mr Qarase has already confirmed that he will re-appoint Qoriniasi Bale to the Senate and bring him back as the attorney general and minister for justice.

Meanwhile, the United People's Party says its decision to form an opposition of two in parliament will highlight the absurdity of the situation.

The party has rescinded its coalition agreement with the Fiji Labour Party.

The UPP's leader, Mick Beddoes, says the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, had invited him to be on a list of 12 nominees, but he felt the country needed an opposition party.

Mr Beddoes says he hopes his decision will eventually prompt some changes within parliament.

"In the power sharing exercise, the only inclusion is the major parties, so if it does anything, it shoud highlight the absurdity of the end result. Because everybody feels there's a need for an effective opposition, two people is hardly an effective opposition."

Mr Beddoes says that Mr Chaudhry was disappointed with his decision but accepted his reasons.

The UPP won two seats in the general elections with one going to Mr Beddoes and the other to Bernadette Rounds Ganilau.