25 May 2006

Confusion in Fiji over who should be leader of the opposition

7:21 am on 25 May 2006

A tussle is under way in Fiji over who should take up the office of leader of the opposition after the Labour Party's decision to join the multi-party cabinet.

The Fiji Sun quotes the Labour leader, Mahendra, Chaudhry's lawyer and son, Rajendra Chaudhry, as saying his father is still eligible to be opposition leader despite his party being a part of the government.

Rajendra Chaudhry says the Labour Party submitted nine names for the cabinet because it is a constitutional requirement, but it does not mean that it has joined the government caucus.

He says the Labour MPs not in the government remain in the opposition.

The attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, says legal opinions agree that if Mr Chaudhry is part of the government, then he cant be leader of the opposition.

The leader of the United People's Party, Mick Beddoes, says they are the only party NOT in the government and if offered the opposition leader's post, he would be willing to take it up.

President Iloilo is reported to be seeking legal advice before he makes an appointment.