FIJI PM QARASE MAY CHALLENGE COURT RULING REGARDING CABINET

SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 18, 2002 – Daily Post/FijiLive)---Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase yesterday said his mandate is to his constituents and he will not be shaken from pursuing it.

Mr. Qarase was weighing options open to him following the Fiji Court of Appeal’s judgment to include the Fiji Labour Party in his Cabinet.

He said if the High Court made a ruling in favor of Labour, whether he liked it or not and had to include Labour, he would go through a number of options, one of which was to increase the size of his Cabinet.

"That is one option, I am looking at ... my team is working very well and I would not like to disturb them," Mr. Qarase said. "So that is a very strong possibility."

He maintained that the Government would appeal the expected ruling of the High Court to the Supreme Court. He said this was a prerogative he had under the Constitution.

Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka, however, said Mr. Qarase should take his cue from the Appeal Court judgment and accept Labour in his Cabinet.

Mr. Rabuka said the 1997 Constitution clearly called for a multi-party Cabinet and it had been made clearer by the Fiji Court of Appeal judges last Friday.

He said Mr. Qarase should give up his nationalistic extremist approach.

Mr. Rabuka, one of the key players in giving Fiji the 1997 Constitution, said it was designed to promote multi-ethnic cooperation at the state level, as Fiji was multi-cultural and multi-religious.

"The Constitution is not the cause of our problems … it is greed," Mr. Rabuka said. "The document is not perfect but it should be tested. It could be amended, but through provisions set in it."

He said Mr Qarase’s greatest fear was he would lose control if he had Labour in Government.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

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

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