8 May 2006

Chaos, confusion and long delays marks day one of Fiji's general election

8:20 am on 8 May 2006

Chaos, confusion and long delays have marked the first day of polling in Fiji's general election.

When voting was supposed to begin on Saturday morning, some polling stations did not have ballot papers, other had the wrong ones and some did not have the electoral rolls.

Voting at some polling stations did not begin until four to six hours after the scheduled time.

While long queues of voters waited patiently, several thousands of frustrated people across the country left without voting.

The supervisor of elections, Semesa Karavaki, was not at work on Saturday but his deputy, Semi Matalau, apologised to the people of Fiji and promised that the problems would be overcome when voting resumes today.

The leader of the opposition Mahendra Chaudhry is calling for Mr Karavaki's resignation, adding that his complaints about the lack of readiness by the Elections Office had been proved right.