12 Apr 2006

Objections are raised against 17 candidates in Fiji elections

8:11 pm on 12 April 2006

Objections have been raised against 17 of the 346 candidates who have filed nominations to contest the Fiji general elections next month.

Radio Fiji reports that 10 objections have raised in the central Division, 3 in the North, 3 in the West and 1 in the East.

The radio says the campaign director of the ruling SDL party, Jale Baba, who is contesting the Ba Open seat against the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is facing objections on the grounds of bankruptcy proceedings against him in the courts.

Radio Fiji says the objection has been lodged by the Labour Party's Tulsi Ram Khelawan.

They are based on sections of the constitution which prevent an undischarged bankrupt or anyone having a contract with the state from contesting a general election because this would lead to an elected MP having a conflict of interest.

Mr Khelawan claims that Jale Baba is a shareholder in Baba Forests and the Nadi Forest Company both of which have contracts with the government.

Baba Forests was cited in the auditor general's 2005 special investigation report for its contract with the education ministry.

Another reason for Mr Khelawan's objection is Mr Baba's pending bankruptcy proceedings initiated by the state-owned Fiji Development Bank.

Fiji's Electoral Commission is will decide on this and serious objections while some have already been dealt with by the four returning officers.