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SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 26, 2001 – Daily Post/FijiLive)---Ra Open seat winner George Shiu Raj, the only Indian in the Laisenia Qarase-led government, is to be made a full minister.

Mr. Raj will this morning be sworn in at Government House as the new Minister for Multi Ethnic Affairs.

Mr. Raj was previously the Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Multi Ethnic Affairs in the caretaker government.

The move could be to deflect criticism over the non-inclusion of the Fiji Labour Party in the multi-party Cabinet.

According to senior government sources, Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase sees the importance of ensuring that all the communities in Fiji are given equal care and attention by the government in development activities.

"This will mean Mr. Raj will be overseeing and coordinating development assistance by the government targeting the Indian community and other minority communities," the source said.

Mr. Qarase is also thinking of establishing an advisory council for these communities to advise the government on their development needs and concerns, according to the source.

"Mr. Qarase will be seeking government's approval for these before details are released," the source said.

It is expected that Mr. Qarase will be seeking additional funds to cover increased assistance by the government to all these communities in next year's budget.

Minister for Regional Development Ilaitia Tuisese will now concentrate on Regional Development and has been asked to work closely with the Ministry of Fijian Affairs and the Fijian Administration.

As Minister for Multi Ethnic Affairs, Mr. Raj is going to be the latest inclusion in the Qarase Cabinet.

Mr. Qarase is optimistic his Cabinet will uplift the living standard of people in Fiji and will solve the bread and butter issues not only for Fijians but for other races as well, the source said.

"With the inclusion of Mr. Raj, we have a competent and well-rounded government. People should give them time to deliver their promises and not continue belaboring the issue of the government being a racial one."

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

For additional reports from FijiLive, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.



SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 26, 2001 – Radio Australia)---The first Cabinet meeting of Fiji's newly elected government has taken place in Suva, chaired by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

As Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports from Suva, the meeting was held under tight security:

"Full security attention has been given to the meeting, with the area around government buildings cordoned and entry controlled by uniformed police.

"The Assistant Commissioner of Police Operations, Kevueli Bulamainaivalu, says the Cabinet is being provided tight security as part of new police measures to counter any possible takeovers.

"He adds that since the takeover of Parliament last year, police are treating Parliament and Cabinet meetings as the number one priority on their list.

"All future Cabinet meetings are expected to be held under tight security.

"For Radio Australia News, I'm Ofa Kaukimoce.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.



SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 25, 2001 - Radio Fiji/PINA Nius Online)---Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua Party yesterday increased its number of seats in the House of Representatives to 32.

Its candidate, George Shiu Raj, was declared winner of the Ra Open Constituency, the last seat to be decided in the elections returning Fiji to democratic government.

Meanwhile, the Fiji Labour Party - led by Mahendra Chaudhry - was filing action in Lautoka High Court over its exclusion from the multi-party Cabinet.

Labour, mainly backed by Fiji's ethnic Indians, won 27 seats and says it is entitled to Cabinet seats under the constitution. Mr. Qarase, whose party is mainly backed by indigenous Fijians, said Mr. Chaudhry wanted conditions that made this unworkable.

Mr. Raj is expected to be sworn in as Assistant Minister for Regional Development, a position he held in the former Caretaker government in power as Fiji recovered from last year's coup crisis.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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