6 May 2006

Hundreds of polling stations in Fiji open for voting

9:28 am on 6 May 2006

Hundreds of polling stations open across Fiji today at the start of a week of voting for the country's second general elections since the May 2000 coup.

According to the rules, all political advertising which has saturated television, radio and newspapers ceased at midnight last night.

The voting process will be under the close scrutiny of election observers from the European Union, the Commonwealth, the Pacific Forum and the University of the South Pacific.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says he is confident of a win and of making inroads into the ethnic Indian vote.

The Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, is also predicting that he will win with 39 of the 71 seats in the House of Representatives and says he is receiving significant indigenous Fijian support.

Other political parties have been more cautious but add that they will be in parliament and part of the next government.