24 Oct 2002

FLP leader Chaudhry again refuses Fiji opposition role

4:57 pm on 24 October 2002

The leader of the Fiji Labour Party, Mahendra Chaudhry, has for the second time refused to become the leader of the opposition in Fiji's parliament.

Mr Chaudhry has written to President Ratu Josefa Iloilo turning down the appointment.

Rita Narayan reports.

"In his letter Mr Chaudhry said he is unable to accept the appointment because Labour has exercised its constitutional right to be in the government. He says prime minister Laisenia Qarase is continuing to head an unconstitutional government even after the Fiji court of appeal declared the government unconstitutional. Mr Qarase has appealed a high court ruling to include Labour in the multi-party cabinet. Mr Chaudhry expressed disappointment at the delay in appointing a supreme court, which would hear the appeal. Labour has asked the president to withhold appointing a leader of opposition until the supreme court rules on the case. Mr Chaudhry says the president can exercise the option to withhold the appointment because of certain circumstances, as provided in Fiji's constitution. Fiji's former leader of opposition Prem Singh was forced to resign two months ago when he lost his seat in a court battle."