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Qarase Back As Caretaker PM

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SUVA: Unelected banker Laisenia Qarase was today appointed caretaker prime minister to lead Fiji to general elections later this year as critics described the president's controversial efforts to resolve the country's political impasse as illegal, local media report.

Newly sworn-in President Ratu Josefa Iloilo announced Qarase's reappointment after one day prime minister Ratu Tevita Momoedomu resigned.

Qarase, who reportedly handed in his illegal regime's resignation yesterday, is expected to name a "leaner" cabinet tomorrow.

The President also announced that he would ask for the work of the Constitutional Review Commission, declared illegal in an earlier court ruling, be continued and that the new Parliament consider the commission's report.

Elected Deputy Prime Minister Dr Tupeni Baba earlier today denounced the brief appointment of Momoedomu as "constitutionally and politically wrong".

Dr Baba said the only way forward for Fiji was to convene Parliament and have the confidence in the prime minister issue addressed in the House.

According to FijiLive, Dr Baba said the People's Coalition Government had decided to gather the political party leaders together to ask the President to reconsider the steps he had taken.

He said that these actions could be challenged in the courts, but the parties preferred the President to retrace his steps and follow the "correct" constitutional path.

Dr Baba said the President had been petitioned by more than 40 MPs calling on him to convene Parliament.

"He cannot ignore this and decide to go along an unconstitutional path," Dr Baba said.

According to Pacnews, President Iloilo said in a national address he was guided "by the spirit and the intent of the constitution and the principle that the welfare of the people is supreme."

"It was clear to me that he (Chaudhry) no longer enjoyed majority support within his People's Coalition (government), from those who do not favour an immediate dissolution but support a government of national unity within Parliament under a Fijian prime minister," the President said.

"The most judicious course was therefore to exercise my powers under section 109 of the constitution to dismiss Mr Chaudhry and to appoint a caretaker prime minister."

Chaudhry was quoted by the Fiji Times today as saying that President Iloilo's dismissal of him was "badly advised and unlawful".

Urging the president to reconsider, Chaudhry said: "At this time, it is vital for him to demonstrate to the nation the importance of governing within the law to enhance confidence in our country's ability to be so governed.

"There is a great deal of bungling here and actually this is leaving everyone confused and this is why it is so necessary to act within the law so things are clear."

+++niuswire


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