18 Jul 2003

Fiji Government ordered to include Labour in Cabinet

3:29 pm on 18 July 2003

Fiji's Supreme Court has ordered the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, to include the Labour Party in his Cabinet.

The order upholds earlier High Court and Court of Appeal judgments giving the same decision which Mr Qarase had appealed against.

The Supreme Court's order is clear and unambiguous.

It says the Constitution has made a command to establish a multi-party Cabinet.

The Supreme Court says the obligation is clear and is not affected by perceived policy differences between the two parties.

It says the command must be implemented without delay.

The court says the Prime Minister is now required to consult with the leader of the Fiji Labour Party on the appointment of ministers from that party and have them sworn into Cabinet by the President.

It says the concept of power sharing between Fiji's communities is central to the Constitution.

It quotes the former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka's word's at the time of the 1997 Constitutionn was passed that the requirement for a multi party cabinet is a positive instrument of multi racial co-operation and national unity.

The court says the Constitution provides that importat practical tool by which power sharing is achieved.

The Supreme Court awarded costs against the Government.