26 Jul 2002

Claims of documentary evidence of vote buying in Fiji

4:07 pm on 26 July 2002

The suspended head of Fiji's agriculture ministry, Peniasi Kunatuba, and his lawyers are reported to have documents and witnesses to prove their allegations that ministers of the former interim administration used millions of dollars of state money to buy votes.

Radio FM-96 says Mr Kunatuba has documentary evidence to prove that orders were allegedly given by the interim ministers, including Laisenia Qarase, for the distribution of at least seven million US dollars worth of farm implements before last year's general election.

The radio says Mr Kunatuba's laywer, Tevita Fa, has confirmed that they have correspondence and witnesses to back their claims that the orders were given by the interim ministers and that they allegedly benefited from the scheme.

Mr Fa says they are seeking court orders that Mr Kunatuba did not benefit from the scheme and for the interim ministers to repay the state seven point four million US diollars which was allegedly misused before the general elections.

But Mr Qarase says it was Mr Kunatuba who was behind the misuse of the funds and the government has evidence of this.