The FLP Delegates Conference was today briefed by the FLP parliamentary leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, on his discussions with Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase on the invitation to the FLP to join the Cabinet.
The invitation by the PM was made after the recent Supreme Court decision, which commanded the PM to include the FLP in Cabinet pursuant to section 99 (5) of the Fiji Constitution.
The conference was dominated by discussions between the two leaders and encompassed the particulars of the invitation and the ministerial portfolios offered to the FLP by the Prime Minister.
The conference noted with concern:
- The Prime Minister’s intention of increasing the Cabinet to 36 ministers and 6 assistant ministers and his attachment of certain preconditions for such an inclusion as any such numbers would impose severe financial constraints on an already weak public purse.
- The Prime Minister’s reluctance to negotiate in good faith and his refusal to reduce the size of his quota of ministers when including those from minor parties which did not qualify for such representation under the constitution.
- The nature of portfolios offered to the FLP given that most of the new ministries are a secondary and minor part of already existing substantive ministries. As such these new creations were an unnecessary extra financial burden on the taxpayers.
- That these proposed ministries would not have its own department heads would also mean that the ministries to be allocated to the FLP would be in essence still controlled by the SDL hence impinging the ability of the FLP to exercise its control as ministerial heads of these ministries.
- The absence on the part of the PM to negotiate and invite the FLP in good faith and to so begin the process of reconciliation and nation building that is so necessary after the political events of May 2000 and in terms and conditions of the 1997 Constitution.
Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, said that the party had had good submissions from the delegates and that these would be considered when the FLP Management Board meets in Suva next week to further discuss the multi party invitation.
The conference resolved that the Mr. Chaudhry continues with further negotiations with the Prime Minister to resolve this long-standing political impasse in the national interest.