22 Nov 2006

Fiji budget vote threatens future of multi-party cabinet

10:04 am on 22 November 2006

Fiji's multi-party cabinet faces possible collapse today when the government's 2007 Budget is put to the vote.

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says he is confident he has the numbers to have the budget passed without the support of Labour Party ministers.

But he is insisting they vote for the budget on the grounds of collective responsibility and cabinet solidarity, or at the most abstain.

But five of the Labour Party ministers have asked Mr Qarase to reconsider his position to allow them to vote on the budget along party lines.

The ministers have written to Mr Qarase warning him that should any of them be dismissed for voting against the budget, all Labour ministers would resign immediately.

The Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry says should the ministers be dismissed, the multi-party cabinet will go with them.

Three Labour Party ministers - Krishna Datt, Adi Sivia Qoro and Poseci Bune - are overseas and will not be voting while another is hospitalised.