23 May 2006

Fiji's PM says swearing in ceremony will still go ahead

9:43 am on 23 May 2006

Fiji's prime minister says the swearing in of the new cabinet will proceed today, with or without the presence of Labour Party MPs he has named to his ministry.

But Mr Qarase has told Radio Legend that he hopes the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, will be open to last minute consultations before the swearing in.

Labour ministers are planning to boycott the ceremony and will be holding an emergency caucus meeting at that time.

Mr Qarase says the country cant afford to delay the swearing in of ministers because they are required to take control of their portfolios and move forward with providing services to the people.

He says if the Labour Party decides to come on board after the swearing in this morning, that would still be acceptable and they will not miss out on the multi-party cabinet.

Mr Qarase says he hopes they will not delay the process for too long because they should be in place to take control of the portfolios assigned to them.

Last night Mr Chaudhry accused the prime minister of trying to manipulate the formation of a multi-party cabinet after Mr Qarase made changes to the portfolio allocations the Labour leader had recommended.

Mr Qarase says it is the prime minister's prerogative to decide what portfolios he assigns.