22 Feb 2005

Fiji's opposition leader alleges interference in the electoral process

2:39 pm on 22 February 2005

Fiji's opposition leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is alleging interference in the electoral process and the abuse of public funds to campaign for next year's general election.

Mr Chaudhry has written to the Electoral Commission after the labour minister, Kenneth Zinck, said he would lead a government team, including electoral officials, on a tour of Kuwait and Iraq.

The trip is to study the working conditions of large numbers of Fijians employed there.

But, Mr Chaudhry says registering voters who may not be in their normal places of residence is not the job of a cabinet minister.

He says public funds should not be used to sponsor the political agenda of a party.

Mr Zinck says he wants Fijians in Iraq and Kuwait to vote but if electoral officials want to go separately, they can do so.

In an editorial today, the FIJI SUN says while the government has been concerned about the electoral consequences of so many indigenous Fijians being absent during the election, Mr Zinck should be stopped from using public money for party political purposes.

The Sun says if the government wants to campaign in Kuwait and Iraq, the SDL party should pay for the privilege, NOT the people of Fiji.