31 May 2006

Fiji President delays naming opposition leader

9:33 am on 31 May 2006

Fiji's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, is reported to have summoned the prime minister for a meeting over the key parliamentary positions of opposition leader and Speaker.

The Fiji Times reports that Laisenia Qarase will cut short a brief holiday and general election victory celebrations on his home island in the Lau group to leave for Suva this afternoon.

The newspaper says it is believed President Iloilo will discuss the nominations of Speaker of the House of Representatives and the opposition leader with Mr Qarase before an announcement is made.

Mr Qarase said from his island yesterday that his legal advice is that the leader of the United People's Party, Mick Beddoes, would be the constitutional opposition leader.

But the Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is adamant that he should be opposition leader, even though nine members of the party are in the new multi-party cabinet.

Mr Beddoes says while his is the only party in opposition, he would accept whatever decision the president makes.