FIJI PM QARASE TAKING OPPOSITION LEADER SINGH TO CHOGM

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (February 28, 2002 - Daily Post/Fiji Times/PINA Nius Online)---Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has invited Opposition Leader Prem Singh to join Fiji's delegation to this weekend's Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Australia.

"I invited him as the Leader of the Opposition," Mr. Qarase said as he prepared to spearhead Fiji's return after the lifting of its suspension from the councils of the Commonwealth.

Mr. Qarase's delegation also includes his wife Leba, Foreign Minister Kaliopate Tavola, and senior diplomats and officials.

Mr. Qarase is expected to have a series of key meetings with other leaders following the ending of the suspension imposed following the May 2000 coup crisis.

Among them are talks he hopes to have with Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on the extension of trade, tourism and investment links between the countries.

They will also include Fiji's plans to open a high commission in India.

Mr. Qarase said Fiji could also improve its health services with help from Indian doctors.

Mr. Qarase told the Fiji-India Business Council yesterday that he intends to tell Mr. Vajpayee about Fiji's constitutional problems and their consequences.

"India is one of the emerging forces of the global market," Mr. Qarase said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Singh said the courts have put a stay on a judge's decision that he had lost his seat in the House of Representatives. The judge's ruling came after he allowed votes election officials had ruled invalid.

"I am legitimately still the Opposition Leader and elected National Federation Party Member of Parliament," Mr. Singh said.

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry -- the man deposed as prime minister during the coup crisis -- described Mr Singh's trip as a joke.

Mr. Chaudhry said: " He is not a legitimate member of Parliament to attend the meeting. But I am not surprised, as the Prime Minister is doing so many things wrong."

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

For additional reports from the Fiji Times, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/Fiji Times.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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