Cabinet (Fiji)

From Academic Kids

Template:Politics of Fiji

The Cabinet system

Fiji has the Westminster system - executive authority is vested nominally in a President, but exercised in practice by a Cabinet of Ministers, presided over by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister is formally appointed, but not chosen, by the President: the President must appoint as Prime Minister someone who can control a majority of votes in the House of Representatives. In practice, this is normally the leader of the largest political party or coalition in the house. If there is no clear majority in the House of Representatives, however, the President's role becomes more important: he or she must assume the role of arbitrator and open negotiations with the leaders of the various political parties, in the hope of finding someone whom a majority will accept as Prime Minister. In the event of that failing to take place, the President must dissolve the House of Representatives and call an early election.

Multi-party composition

Cabinet Ministers are formally appointed by the President, but he is constitutionally required to do so only on the advice of the Prime Minister. An unusual feature of the Fijian constitution is its provision for a compulsory coalition cabinet - even if one party has a parliamentary majority in its own right. Every political party with more than 8 seats in the 71-member parliament must be offered a proportionate number of cabinet posts. If the Prime Minister wishes to give cabinet posts to members of a party with fewer than 8 representatives, he must do so at the expense of his own party, not of other parties in the coalition. This provision was written into the 1997 Constitution with a view to forcing Fiji's political parties, which represented ethnic communities for the most part, to cooperate rather than compete for absolute power. In adopting this novel feature, Fijians noted that a similar system has been operating successfully in Switzerland for decades. More recently, it has been tried (with far less success) in Northern Ireland.

The multi-party cabinet model has never been successfully maintained in Fiji, however. The Chaudhry government refused to include the Fijian Political Party in the 1999-2000 cabinet, despite the party's holding the required 8 parliamentary seats. Then following the election of 2001, Mahendra Chaudhry, the leader of the Fiji Labour Party, was involved in litigation against the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, on the grounds that Qarase had unconstitutionally refused to include the Labour Party in the Cabinet. On 18 July, 2003, Fiji's Supreme Court ruled that the exclusion of the Labour Party was in breach of the Constitution, and demanded that the situation be rectified. Amid appeals, counter-appeals, and negotiations, the situation had still not been resolved as of June 2004, when the Supreme Court handed down a further ruling that the Labour Party was entitled to 14 out of 30 posts in the Cabinet. Qarase announced that he would abide by the ruling and would appoint enlarge the Cabinet to include the requisite number of Labour Party ministers, but not Chaudhry himself. This continued to stall negotiations, until late November 2004, when Chaudhry announced that the Labour Party had decided to remain in opposition for the remainder of the present parliamentary term, which is supposed to expire in 2006, although rumours abound that the government is looking at an early 2005 election.

On 16 December 2004, Prime Minister Qarase announced that he would try to get Mahendra Chaudhry's agreement to amend the constitution to abolish the multi-party cabinet rule, which he called "ridiculous," and replace it with a requirement for the cabinet to be "multi-ethnic." This would require a change to Qarase's own cabinet, which at present contains no Indo-Fijians and only two non-indigenous Fijians.


As of April 2005, the Cabinet was as follows.

PortfolioMinisterPolitical Party
Prime Minister,
Minister for Fijian Affairs, Culture and Heritage,
Minister For National Reconciliation and Unity,
Minister For ALTA and Sugar Industry
Laisenia QaraseUnited Fiji Party
Attorney General,
Minister For Justice
Qoriniasi BaleUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Finance And National Planning,
Minister For Communications
Ratu Jone KubuabolaUnited Fiji Party
Minister For EducationRo Teimumu Vuikaba KepaUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Commerce, Business Development and InvestmentTomasi VuetilovoniUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Home Affairs,
Minister For Immigration
Josefa VosanibolaUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Foreign Affairs,
Minister For External Trade
Kaliopate TavolaUnited Fiji Party
Minister For TourismPita NacuvaUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Regional DevelopmentTed YoungUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Fisheries,
Minister For Forests
Konisi YabakiUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Agriculture, Sugar And Land ResettlementIlaitia TuiseseUnited Fiji Party
Minister For HealthSolomone NaivaluUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Lands and Mineral ResourcesSamisoni Tikoinasau [1]Conservative Alliance
Minister For Women,
Minister for Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation
Asenaca CaucauUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Transport And ShippingSimione KaitaniUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Local Government, Housing, Squatter Settlement and EnvironmentPio WongUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Labour, Industrial Relations And ProductivityKenneth ZinckNew Labour Unity Party
*Minister For Public Enterprises,
Minister For Public Sector Reform
Jonetani GaluinadiUnited Fiji Party
Minister For Works,
Minister For Energy
Savenaca DraunidaloIndependent
Minister For Youth,
Minister For Employment Opportunities,
Minister For Sports
Isireli LeweniqilaConservative Alliance
Minister For Multi-Ethnic Affairsvacant [2]
Minister For Information and Media Relationsvacant [3]
Assistant Minister, Prime Minister's OfficeMarieta RigamotoIndependent
Assistant Minister For Fijian Affairs, Culture, and HeritageNanise NagusucaUnited Fiji Party
Assistant Minister For Local Government, Housing, Squatter Settlement and EnvironmentJoji BanuveUnited Fiji Party
Assistant Minister For Agriculture, Sugar and Land ResettlementIsireli TuvukiUnited Fiji Party
Assistant Minister For Women,
Assistant Minister For Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation
Losena SalabulaUnited Fiji Party
Assistant Minister for HealthTomasi SauqaqaUnited Fiji Party

  • [2] The position of Minister For Multi-Ethnic Affairs was declared vacant on 30 September 2004, when George Shiu Raj resigned, amid accusations of misuse of government funds. Prime Minister Qarase announced that a new minister would not be appointed; Qarase himself would take over responsibility for the portfolio pending the outcome of a police investigation. If exonerated by the inquiry, Raj might be reinstated, Qarase hinted. On 16 December 2004, Qarase reiterated that Raj's position was being kept open for him, pending the outcome of the investigation.

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