12 Jul 2004

Fiji Government not prepared to talk over multi party Cabinet issue with Labour

4:05 pm on 12 July 2004

Fiji's ruling SDL party has ruled out any talks with the Labour Party over the Supreme Court ruling on the multi-party cabinet.

The SDL's national director, Jale Baba, says further discussion is pointless because of fundamental flaws in the constitution on the multi-party system.

The Supreme Court ruling on Friday stated that the number of cabinet posts offered had to be proportional to the seats the parties held in parliament.

Mr Baba says politicians should amend the constitutional requirement for a multi-party cabinet.

He says Labour clearly has no desire to join the Government in cabinet and its antics are a waste of taxpayer's money.

"They have no intention of coming in. Why didn't they put all their cases together and make it one court case. They've left a minefield of court cases to frustrate nation-building in Fiji."

He says that the country is moving forward without Labour in cabinet and it should do the right thing by Fiji and stay out.

Meanwhile, a prominent lawyer says the supreme court ruling sets a precedent for independents and senators.

John Apted, a constitutional expert, says the prime minister could now invite independents and senators into cabinet without it affecting the number of seats his SDL party is entitled to.

And, Mr Apted says it opens the way for others to participate.

When appointing from his own party and from the Labour party, the prime minister must make sure that they're proportionate to each other. But, there's no limit on how many independents and senators he can then appoint outside of those proportions. The short term implication is that the prime minister can bring in to the cabinet, people that he has nominated to the senate.

John Apted.