18 May 2006

Fiji PM offers Labour seven ministries

5:59 pm on 18 May 2006

Fiji's re-elected prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has offered the Fiji Labour Party seven portfolios in a proposed 17-member cabinet.

This in line with the constitutional requirement to invite parties into government holding at least 10 percent of the seats.

Mr Qarase has asked the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, for a speedy reply to allow the new ministers to be sworn in on Monday.

On offer are among others the agriculture, health and energy ministries.

He has asked Labour to submit 12 names for consideration.

Mr Qarase also plans to include in government the two independents, in addition to the 17 cabinet ministers.

He says the new government will table a new Reconciliation and Unity bill, which he says will be acceptable to all the military except possibly to its Commander.

Mr Qarase has dismissed Commodore Frank Bainimarama's claims that a foreigner might be considered to lead the military, saying this never crossed his mind.

He has described the statement as unfortunate and damaging to the economy.