16 May 2006

Open seats in Suva likely to be key in Fiji election result

7:42 pm on 16 May 2006

The Fiji election is expected to be decided in the open seats in the Suva area as the count so far has shown the SDL Party of Laisenia Qarase and Mahendra Chaudry's Fiji Labour Party neck and neck.

The SDL has 30 and Labour 25 seats.

Counting for the 71 seats began on Monday morning and is now in its second night.

WZ reports.

"The Labour Party has swept the Indian communal seats while the Fijian seats went to the SDL - a result that shows an unprecedented divide in Fiji politics. Open seats decided so far have seen the election of Labour's Poseci Bune as well as SDL's George Shiu Raj and Ratu Josefa Dimuri - a former senator who was briefly jailed for his role in the 2000 Labasa mutiny. The supervisor of elections, Semesa Karavaki, says turn-out in many constituencies has been high, which slowed the count - 'If it continues to be sitting on 90 percent, then I would be a happy man if we can be compared to the western deomocracies with a good turnout.' Mr Karavaki acknowledges that the 100 percent plus turnout in one electorate was due to some voters casting their ballots on the wrong side of the constituency boundary. Despite the apparent irregularities, counting is continuing and a final tally is expected within hours once the Suva results are in."