16 May 2002

Fiji Labour Party leader again declines opposion leader's position

9:13 am on 16 May 2002

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says he won't take up the opposition leader's position.

Mr Chaudhry made the statement in parliament yesterday after the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, renewed his call for Mr Chaudhry to go into opposition.

Mr Qarase said this way Mr Chaudhry would resolve the constitutional impasse over the composition of the cabinet.

Mr Qarase said once the Labour Party goes into opposition, he would initiate dialogue between the government and the opposition on vital issues affecting the country.

The deputy opposition leader, Ofa Duncan, called on the two leaders to hand over leadership to others if they could not come to a consensus.

Labour is refusing to go into opposition because of a High Court ruling that it is constitutionally entitled to be part of the cabinet.

Mr Qarase says he'll exhaust every legal means to keep Labour out of the cabinet because their policies are diametrically opposite and would lead to instability.

Meanwhile, Mr Chaudhry continues to occupy the opposition leader's office and his seat in the House of Representatives.