21 Nov 2005

Fiji's Chaudhry takes legal action in bid to remove two ministers

4:43 pm on 21 November 2005

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has begun legal action to remove two cabinet ministers from their positions as elected members of parliament.

The Fiji Times reports that they are the minister for education, Ro Teimumu Kepa, and the minister for Trade and Commerce, Tomasi Vuetilovoni.

Mr Chaudhry's legal action is on the grounds that Ro Teimumu has served as chairman of the Rewa Provincial Council and Mr Vuetilovoni as chairman of the Ra Provincial Council.

Fiji's 1997 Constitution prevents an elected MP from holding public office.

Both ministers resigned their provincial positions when the law was pointed out.

But the Rewa Provincial Council has refused to appoint a replacement and says it will wait the constitution is changed to make their high chief eligible for the position again.

The attorney general, Qoriniasi Bale, is quoted as saying a Bill is before parliament to make amendments to the constitution to allow cabinet ministers to hold public office.