INDIAN OPPOSITION PARTY WANTS DEPUTY PM POST IN NEW COALITION GOVERNMENT

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 22, 1999 - PACNEWS)---Fiji's Opposition leader, Jai Ram Reddy, could be Deputy Prime Minister in a coalition government with the ruling party of Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, after the May general election.

The Daily Post newspaper reports that Reddy's opposition National Federation Party (NFP) has asked Rabuka's SVT Party for the leader of the NFP to be given the Deputy Prime Minister's position if a three-way coalition between the two parties and the United General Party wins the May election.

Reddy was Attorney-General in the 1987 coalition government of Doctor Timoci Bavadra, ousted by the then Colonel Rabuka. While Reddy has led the NFP back into Parliament through the 1992 and the snap 1994 elections, he has been tight lipped about whether he will stand for the May election.

Rabuka said the SVT has agreed to Reddy's request that the condition be part of a final coalition agreement to be signed between the three parties in March. The party is content in letting the SVT leader remain Prime Minister.

The coalition agreement was to be signed this month. However, Rabuka said the signing has been delayed until the first week of March because he wants the NFP to remain in Parliament as a full opposition.

Rabuka said he did not want the NFP to compromise their position to sign the coalition agreement while Parliament was still in session.

The current session of the House of Representatives ends Wednesday.

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