20 Jun 2006

Fiji PM asks rebel minister to make up his mind

10:53 am on 20 June 2006

Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has called on the rebel Labour Party minister in the multi-party cabinet, Lekh Ram Vyashnoi, to make up his mind whether he wants to be in the government or resign.

Mr Qarase's comment follows Mr Vyashnoi's meeting with the prime minister after which he said he would continue to oppose government policies publicly and wanted cabinet rules revised to enable him to do this.

Mr Qarase has told Radio Legend that he has explained the rules and principles which govern cabinet to Mr Vyashnoi.

"If he does not want to follow the rules, the option for him if to step down as a cabinet minister and join the backbench of the Fiji Labour Party. That would be the honorable thing to do. If he fails, then of course I will have to take the next step."

On Mr Vyashnoi's call to review cabinet rules to allow him to continue criticising, Mr Qarase says the rules cannot be changed to suit one individual.

Mr Qarase says the principles of confidentiality and collective responsibility are fundamental to the working of a cabinet and he expects all cabinet ministers to follow the same rules without any exception.

Meanwhile, the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says he expects ministers from his party in the multi-party cabinet to vote along party lines and oppose government bills as necessary.