9 Feb 2006

Fiji's vice president calls for the country to move away from a racial voting system

4:37 pm on 9 February 2006

Fiji's vice president says it is time to move away from the country's racial voting system.

Radio Legend reports that Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi made the comment while opening a workshop to review Fiji's electoral system organised by the Citizens Constitutional Forum.

Ratu Joni says those responsible face a daunting task in seeking out a system that does not encourage racial voting as has been the practice so far.

He says the electoral set up should be neutral and should not encourage any particular tendencies in the country.

Regrettably, he says, the earlier first-past-the-post system and the present one combined with communal representation have accentuated the ethnic divide.

The vice president says he accepts that ethnicity and identity politics have long been established in Fiji and will remain for a good while yet.

But, Ratu Joni says, he does not believe that it is helpful to nation building to have in place structures that emphasise divisions in the community.

The vice president says he believes Fiji should have an electoral system which reflects the strengths of the political parties and no more.

He says it is up to the politicians to do what they please with that support.