24 Oct 2002

SDL councillors in Lautoka say Labour members breached Local Government Act

10:34 am on 24 October 2002

Lautoka city councillors from Fiji's ruling SDL Party are demanding a proper secret ballot for the mayoral election or dissolution of the council.

The SDL councillors boycotted the council's first meeting in protest at what they say was a lack of secrecy in the ballot.

Their spokesman, Josefata Niumataiwalu, says the mayoral election was not conducted according to the Local Government Act because during the vote Labour party councillors were seen showing their ballot papers to one another.

A Labour Party councillor, Sunil Gunwade, has confirmed to Radio Fiji that the party's Lautoka MP, Dr Ganesh Chand had instructed councillors to scrutinise each other's ballot papers during the vote because of rumours of cross-party deals.

But Dr Chand has denied the allegation, even though he had told Fiji TV before the vote that Labour councilliors had agreed to show each other their ballot papers.

Labour has 12 councillors in Lautoka while the SDL has four.