26 Jun 2002

Fiji police begin investigation into allegations of vote buying in last year's election

10:17 am on 26 June 2002

Fiji police have begun investigations into allegations of vote buying by ministers of the former interim administration.

This follows a request from the supervisor of elections, Walter Rigamoto, who says if the allegations are proved, the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase and his entire government could lose power.

But the police commissioner, Col Isikia Savua, says the allegations will take a long time to investigate because proper procedures have to be followed.

Col Savua says vote buying is not easy to prove because one has to determine that a person received something for his vote and that he actally cast his ballot for the person who provided the services.

Col Savua says if police investigations could not prove the allegations, the director of public prosecutions might have to decide there is no case to answer rather than wasting everybody's time.

The allegations surfaced after the suspended head of the agriculture ministry, Peniasi Kunatuba, filed a writ against Mr Qarase and his interim ministers detailing how farming and fishing equipment was distributed before last year's election