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Fiji losers claim election vote rigging

Political parties bound for the opposition benches and those who failed to make the Fiji Parliament want the vote count suspended.

As of last night, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s Fiji First Party had taken a commanding lead – securing more than 60 per cent of valid votes – and will almost certainly form the next Government. Its closest rival, Sodelpa, was just under 27 per cent, and would not be in a position to beat Fiji First with about 400,000 of the 520,000 votes counted.

But Sodelpa, One Fiji, National Federation Party, People’s Democratic Parties and the Fiji Labour Party said they would not accept the results and alleged vote rigging.

“We will not accept the outcome based on the evidence available which points to a co-ordinated and systematic effort to defraud the citizens of Fiji of a free and fair election,” the parties said.

They alleged there had been tampering with ballot boxes, that ballot boxes were removed from polling stations without being counted and the inclusion of large-sized files and envelopes in ballot boxes that could only have been placed if the boxes were open.

Sodelpa leader Ro Teimumu Kepa said the evidence of these frauds would be presented to the Fijian Elections Office today.

However, the Multinational Observer Group, which had been monitoring Fiji’s first election since a 2006 Bainimarama-led military coup, said it found no evidence of fraud.

Co-leader Peter Reith said the group found the election was on track to “broadly represent the will of the Fijian voters”.

It also found the conditions were in place for Fijians to exercise their right to vote freely.

“The 2014 Fijian election, the first since 2006, was enthusiastically embraced by the voters of Fijiwho were keen to participate inthe democratic process,” Mr Reith said.

Fiji First Minister Responsible for Elections and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the party would wait until counting was completed before claiming victory.

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said yesterday that he was unable to say when counting would finish.

Source: The New Zealand Herald


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