26 Oct 2002

Fiji Prime Minister urged by constitution authority to include Labour in Government

4:42 am on 26 October 2002

One of the three commissioners who drew up Fiji's 1997 Constitution has urged the Qarase government to accept the Labour Party as part of a multi party cabinet.

Indigenous Fijian commissioner and long time cabinet minister, Tomasi Vakatoro, has told the Fiji Sun newspaper this is because the Government won't find any help in the constitution if the Supreme Court decision on the multi party cabinet goes against them.

Mr Vakatora says the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, should include Labour in his Cabinet and if they don't follow his policies, it is his prerogative to remove them.

He says since the Constitution is the supreme law of the country, Mr Qarase must adhere to section 99 which clearly states that the Prime Minister must establish a multi party government of parties which have more than ten percent of the seats in the House of Representatives.

Mr Vakatora says he and the other two constitution commissioners, Sir Paul Reeves and Dr Brij Lal, had not recommended a multi party government.

He says this was put into the Constitution by the joint parliamentary select committee which negotiated the final draft passed by Parliament.

Mr Qarase has repeatedly said that his Government is looking into changing sections of the 1997 Constitution which provides for the multi party government.

But he cannot do this legally in the current parliament without Labour Party support.