29 May 2006

Fiji's Chaudhry changes view on opposition line

11:48 am on 29 May 2006

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has reversed his stance of nearly four years ago by wanting to be leader of the opposition and have party MPs in Cabinet.

Fiji TV has shown a signed statement, dated October 2002, sent to President Iloilo, which said the Mr Chaudhry could not take up the opposition leader's post because his party was waiting to join a multi-party cabinet.

The letter was in response to an invitation from President Iloilo for him to take up the opposition leader's post.

Since the Labour Party joined the SDL in a multi-party cabinet last week, Mr Chaudhry has been fighting to assume the opposition leader's office.

But Mr Chaudhry also signed the Korolevu Declaration in 1999 which agreed that any political party in a multi-party cabinet could not be part of the opposition.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says advice given to him by state and private lawyers is that the United People's Party led by Mick Beddoes is the only opposition.

Mr Qarase says with or without the support of the Labour Party, he is determined to make the multi-party cabinet work because that is what the people of Fiji want.