25 Jun 2002

Fiji police asked to investigate allegations of vote-buying

8:22 am on 25 June 2002

Fiji's supervisor of elections, Walter Rigamoto, has asked police to investigate allegations of vote buying against the prime minister Laisenia Qarase's ruling SDL party.

The Daily Post quotes Mr Rigamoto as saying that if the allegations are proved, Mr Qarase and his entire government could lose power.

Allegations of vote buying were first made during last year's general election.

They have resurfaced after the suspended head of the agriculture ministry, Peniasi Kunatuba, filed a writ in the High Court last week.

The writ gives details of allegations that ministers of the interim administration used millions of dollars to distribute farming and fishing equipment just ahead of the election.

Police have confirmed they are investigating the allegations bur refused to give further details.

The Labour Party says the Electoral Act requires disqualification of parties engeged in vote buying.

Mr Qarase has dissociated the SDL from vote buying, adding that he is ready for a court battle.