21 Aug 2003

Fiji PM rejects accusation of bullying Labour Party

4:54 pm on 21 August 2003

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has rejected claims by the Labour party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, that he is being bullied on the multi-party cabinet issue.

Mr Qarase says it is Mr Chaudhry who has been trying unsuccessfully to demand concessions from him.

Mr Qarase says the size of the multi-party cabinet, the allocation of portfolios and the choice of ministers are not negotiable.

He says decisions on these matters are his prerogative and the constitution merely requires him to consult Mr Chaudhry on the choice of ministers.

The prime minister says Mr Chaudhry has already agreed to solve the multi-party cabinet issue by the end of this month and the 48 hour deadline he had given the Labour leader was in that context.

Mr Qarase says the size of the cabinet and the allocation of ministerial portfolios have already been determined and they are public knowledge.