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Goff welcomes Fiji Court ruling on Consititution

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

18 July 2003

Goff welcomes Fiji Court ruling on Consititution

Foreign Minister Phil Goff is welcoming the commitment of Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase to abide by today’s decision of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

"At issue in this case was the interpretation of section 99(5) of the Fiji Constitution which requires that any party winning over 10 percent of the vote be offered seats in the Cabinet," Mr Goff said.

"The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that the Prime Minister is required to consult with the leader of the Fiji Labour Party (which won 38 percent of the vote in the 2001 election), and appoint members of the Party to Cabinet. It requires this to be done without further delay.

“I am pleased that a final ruling has been given on this issue. It is now up to Prime Minister Qarase and Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry to give effect to the court’s decision.

“Prime Minister Qarase’s repeated statements that he will abide by the Supreme Court’s decision are an important signal that the Fiji Government recognises the importance of upholding the constitution,” Mr Goff said.

“Some commentators have questioned whether the multi-party cabinet provision is workable. Regardless of how individual politicians might feel about any particular provision, the Constitution is paramount and must be upheld.

"At the same time there are lawful means by which the Constitution can be amended, should Fiji's Parliament consider it desirable.”


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