30 Oct 2007

Non-racial voting system for Fiji 2009 elections says interim prime minister

11:05 am on 30 October 2007

Fiji's interim prime minister says the country will have a common electoral roll or non-racial voting system ahead of the March 2009 general elections.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama has told the Sydney Morning Herald it's a revolution but it needs to be done.

He says the common roll will take away the race card which has been played during past elections.

Under Fiji's current electoral arrangements, most parliamentary seats are reserved along ethic lines while a few are open.

Indigenous Fijians, ethnic Indians and General Electors vote for candidates of their own ethnic community and for one of the candidates standing in the Open or multi-racial seats.

Under Commodore Bainimarama's proposal, ethnic seats would be abolished in favour of all open seats.

In the absence of parliament which could make such changes, Commodore Bainimarama says he hopes the People's Charter followed by a referendum will pave the way for non-racial voting.

Commodore Bainimarama says the old system has been very unfair with chiefs, church ministers and provincial councils deciding who rural Fijians should vote for and they went along with it.