18 Jun 2002

Fiji PM says multi-party cabinet not to be imposed by law

9:16 am on 18 June 2002

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says a multi-party cabinet should not be imposed by law.

Also, he does not believe co-operation can be forced by legislation.

Mr Qarase says the best prospect for political integration and multi-ethnic government in Fiji is through the voluntary union of like-minded parties representing the country's different communities.

On the government's appeal against a high court order that the Fiji Labour Party should be part of the cabinet, Mr Qarase says he will abide by the supreme court ruling in a way that is consistent with the constitution.

But Mr Qarase adds that his SDL party and its coalition partners are not comfortable with the constitutional requirement for a multi-party government.

He says the political environment today is very different from the euphoric mood and the relationship between leaders at the time when the 1997 constitution was formulated.

Mr Qarase says the chief architects of that constitution have been severely dealt with by the electorate which can be seen as a repudiation of what the constitution stands for.