10 Sep 2003

Fiji PM promises announcement on multi party Cabinet in a week

4:39 pm on 10 September 2003

Fiji's Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, is expected to make a public announcement on the multi-party cabinet issue next week.

Radio Fiji says this is because Mr Qarase wants to brief President Iloilo on developments on his return this weekend from a a state visit to China.

The secretary to the Prime Minister's office, Jioji Kotobalavu, is quoted as saying no meeting took place this morning between Mr Qarase and the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry.

But he confirmed there has been an exchange of letters on the cabinet issue between the two leaders.

Mr Qarase offered Labour 14 seats in an expanded cabintet of 36 to comply with a Supreme Court order to form a multi-party cabinet.

But the 14 have written to Mr Qarase telling him they were suprised to be named because they had not been consulted and expressed concern that senior Labour MPs including Mr Chaudhry had not been included.

The 14 said only Mr Chaudhry would decide which Labour Party members would join the cabinet.

The Labour Party MPs has also said they would not be taking up any cabinet positions until the Supreme Court has ruled on their claim to be entitled to 17 seats in cabinet in place of the 14 offered by Mr Qarase.