30 May 2006

Fiji's President delays making a decision on who will lead Opposition

7:33 pm on 30 May 2006

Fiji's president, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, has deferred making a decision on who should be appointed the new leader of the opposition while he studies legal opinions provided to him.

Radio Legend reports that this has been confirmed by the president's acting official secretary, Suliasi Turagabeci, who says the president wants to make the right decision on the matter.

Mr Turagabeci says President Iloilo is also studying the legal opinion submitted by the Labour Party lawyer, Anand Singh.

He says a decision is now likely later this week.

The delay comes after earlier reports said all legal papers for the appointment were ready and a decision was imminent.

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

They 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 appear to rule him out.