Fiji Electoral Commissioner rules out stopping count
Fiji's Electoral Commissioner says it would be unfair to stop the election process without evidence presented.
The first final results in the Fiji election are expected later this afternoon despite a call last night for the election count to be stopped.
But as Sally Round told Don Wiseman the Fiji Electoral Commissioner Chen Bunn Young says it is unfair to indict Fiji's whole elections process without evidence being presented.
SALLY ROUND: Five political parties are complaining that there is evidence of systematic fraud in this election.
DON WISEMAN: The claim though surely by these parties must come like a thunderbolt for the Electoral Commission. What are they doing in terms of trying to find out if there is anything behind it?
SR: Well, they say it's not up to them to do that. They've got to be presented with evidence first and up to now they have not been presented with evidence by the political parties making the claims. They say that they had their own commissioners out and about in pre-polling and polling on the day in Fiji. And they also referred to the multi-national observer group who also had their own 92 observers around the country who have come out saying this election broadly represents the will of the people.
DW: The five parties have said that they are in the process of putting together a submission. So when they get that submission, what will the Electoral Commission do?
SR: They said that they will investigate it. But of course they can't do anything until they get any evidence. The political parties say that they will be collating evidence. They will be getting photos and so on. They've appealed to the public to come forward as well. They say that they will present that evidence and they've set up a special committee amongst themselves to do that.
DW: Fiji First has suggested that this is just sour grapes. What's the reaction from the five political parties to that accusation?
SR: Well of course they're saying no this is not sour grapes, but they won't really give that much detail about the claims they are making because they say they're collating at the moment. But they gave three examples in their presentation to the media yesterday, saying that there was evidence of ballot boxes having stuffed in them files for instance which shouldn't be there. And they say there was evidence of ballot boxes leaving polling stations without being counted.
DW: Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said that if they saw this happening on Wednesday, why didn't they say something on Wednesday; and have they responded to that?
SR: Well, Mick Beddoes, who was acting as a spokesman for the five political parties, said that these allegations were only just coming in later in the piece. Fiji is a sort of archipelago and there are remote areas where information needs to come from, so they're only just starting to get it twelve hours after the polls closed.
DW: Now, during and following the poll, I got the impression there was a fairly pleasant atmosphere on the streets. What's the atmosphere like now that the election process has taken this turn?
SR: Well, people are just waiting and seeing. Final results haven't come out, and we're expecting those this afternoon, the first batch of final results. I think it's really just the wait and see attitude. I've been talking to people on the streets twelve hours after the polls closed when it was pretty clear that Frank Bainimarama, the Prime Minister and leader of Fiji First, had an overwhelming majority, and there was a real mixture of opinion on the streets: people said it's a relief to have the elections over; some said they were pleased that the count had come in; one persons said they thought that people would have voted for more change, she was surprised about the whole thing; and others said that they were pleased because this just means stability for their lives.
DW: In the meantime, as far as we know, the count continues and results due, what early next week?
SR: Well final results are expected to be coming in this afternoon and I've been told that the absolute final final won't be known until the end of the week, Sunday or Monday. but in the meantime, preparations are being made by the Head of State for the swearing in of parliament.
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