Leader of the United People’s Party Mick Beddoes has been appointed Leader of the Opposition.
Mr Beddoes’ Party has only two parliamentary seats along with Bernadette Rounds, Member for the Suva General Communal.
The Fiji Labour Party with 31 seats in the House of Representatives was invited by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase to join the Cabinet. Labour was offered nine ministerial positions which it accepted.
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry did not take up a Cabinet portfolio preferring to stay in the Opposition along with the other 21 members of the FLP in order to maintain a strong opposition.
However, the President Ratu Josefa Iloilo appointed Beddoes Opposition Leader in preference to Mr. Chaudhry following legal advice that with nine members in the Cabinet, the Labour Party was a part of government and not the opposition.
Mr. Chaudhry has accepted the President’s decision but continues to maintain that non cabinet members of the FLP are effectively members of the Opposition and will function as such.
Chaudhry who was Leader of the Opposition before the general elections, is now just a backbencher in view of the President’s decision.
He does, however, under the Constitution appoint the 8 Opposition nominees of the Senate. His list will be submitted to the President sometime this week.