30 May 2006

Fiji opposition leader expected to be named

2:41 pm on 30 May 2006

Fiji's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, is expected to announce who the new leader of the opposition will be later today.

The position has become contentious after the formation of a multi-party cabinet which includes nine ministers from the Fiji Labour Party.

Most legal sources hold the view that because Labour is now part of the government, its leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, can no longer hold the post.

Lawyers say that the only party left in the opposition is the United People's Party and its leader, Mick Beddoes, is the only member of parliament who qualifies to be the opposition leader.

Mr Chaudhry's lawyers, his son Rajendra Chaudhry and Anand Singh, say he does qualify to be opposition leader.

But Mr Chaudhry's own arguments on the same issue in 1999 and 2002 disqualify him from the position.

President Iloilo has received legal advice on the issue but he does not have to follow it.

The constitution requires him to act in his own deliberate judgment when making the appointment.