17 Aug 2007

Fresh concern over fairness of last year's Fiji election

8:55 am on 17 August 2007

There is again concern in Fiji over the fairness of last year's election and a commission of inquiry has been set up to to look into it.

The commission has been established by the Human Rights Commission over concerns that thousands of unused ballot papers that went missing could prove that the election results were manipulated.

But Dr Jon Fraenkel from the Australian National University, who was in Fiji for the elections, says it is unlikely that the missing ballot papers amount to fraud.

"We knew about the missing papers, we knew that there has been a large overproduction of papers, even at the time of the election. Although that was strange, most of the evidence suggests that that was just poor administration rather than a devious attempt to fake the election. What is striking is that almost a year after the election and eight months after the coup, there has been so little proof of any cheating of the elections."

Dr Fraenkel says the interim administration is only looking for an excuse for the coup.

The European Union, which sent a large delegation as observers to the election, also issued a statement saying there were no indications of any abuse or manipulation.