19 May 2006

Fiji PM to meet Chaudhry today on government formation

7:51 am on 19 May 2006

Fiji's prime minister expects to meet the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, today to discuss his offer of seven portfolios to Labour in a multi-party cabinet.

Laisenia Qarase has told Radio Legend that he received a letter from Mr Chaudhry last night raising one or two issues which need discussion.

Mr Qarase says he does not want to waste any time and the new cabinet should be sworn in by Monday afternoon.

But Mr Qarase says as soon as the multi-party cabinet is formed, he will bring back all the controversial legislation which the Fiji Labour Party had opposed.

These include the Reconciliation and Unity Bill, the Qoliqoli or Traditional Fishing Grounds Bill, and bills to make changes to the constitution and land lease laws.

Mr Qarase says Labour will need to support the legislation both in cabinet and parliament because if they don't they will be breaking cabinet rules.

Mr Qarase adds that he will be prepared to welcome Mr Chaudhry or any other Labour MP into his cabinet.

Meanwhile, at a meeting last night, the caucus of the Fiji Labour Party and its coalition partners gave Mr Chaudhry the responsibility of deciding whether they should join a multi-party cabinet.