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Fiji Opposition agrees to join Cabinet

The Labour Party had earlier threatened to scrap a partnership deal in a row over ministerial posts.

india Updated: May 23, 2006 10:46 IST

Fiji's main opposition Labour Party on Tuesday agreed to join the nation's multiparty Cabinet after earlier threatening to scrap a partnership deal in a row over ministerial posts.

Mahendra Chaudhry, leader of the ethnic Indian-based Labour Party, said that party colleagues meeting in the capital, Suva, had agreed to join the country's first multiethnic Cabinet led by the ethnic Fijian nationalist Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Under a power-sharing agreement following the Pacific nation's close parliamentary election earlier this month, Labour was alloted nine of the positions in Qarase's 22-member Cabinet and forwarded its nine nominees along with their desired posts.

However, Chaudhry said yesterday that the prime minister had sparked a crisis by denying three of the nominees their chosen positions.

But he told reporters today that his lawmakers had agreed to accept the nine portfolios that were offered to them and that they "overwhelmingly" wanted to join the Cabinet.

Fiji President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, meanwhile, was swearing in 24 ministers and junior ministers from Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party, including three ministers from the Senate, or upper house of parliament, plus two independents.

Chaudhry said he hoped Labour's nine lawmakers would be sworn in as ministers later on Tuesday.

First Published: May 23, 2006 10:39 IST