Fiji poll fraud claims mar Bainimarama’s popular vote


Opposition parties say they do not accept the overwhelming Fijian election victory of former rear admiral and coup leader Voreqe Bainimarama and allege systematic fraud. Fiji's Minister of Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum told Radio New Zealand International he rejected the claims.

International election observers have declared the poll “broadly reflected” the views of Fijian voters but say they want further details from the opposition parties.

The country’s attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who also stood as a candidate for Bainimarama’s Fiji First, has rejected the fraud allegations.

After overthrowing the elected government of Fiji in 2006, Mr Bainimarama has secured a huge personal vote for himself and his Fiji First Party in the country’s first poll in eight years.

“The political parties do declare that they will not accept the outcome of these elections based on the evidence available, which points to a co-ordinated as systemtic effort to defraud the citizens of Fiji of a free and fair election,” said veteran Fijian politician Mick Beddoes speaking on behalf of the opposition parties.

Delivering an interim report, the Multinational Observer Group said they found no major faults with the conduct of the poll.

“The outcome of the 2014 election broadly represents the view of Fijian voters, which is the wording agreed in the terms of reference as a bench mark,” said the Multinational Observer Group’s (MOG) Australian representative Peter Reith in Suva.

MOG delivered its interim report as the six opposition parties prepared to hold a press conference after meeting to discuss Mr Bainimarama’s victory.

With almost two-thirds of the ballots counted, the former military ruler had secured more than 160,000 of the 400,000 votes counted, gives Fiji First about 30 of the 50 seats in Fiji’s parliament.

The main opposition Sodelpa party, which Mr Bainimarama overthrew in 2006, looks likely to only gain 12 seats.

“We call on the electoral commission, the supervisor of elections and the electoral commission to suspend all counting until all issues have been satisfactorily dealt with,” said Mr Beddoes at a press conference flanked by the opposition leaders.

“For example, the tampering of ballot boxes, the removal of ballot boxes from stations before being counted, in placement of large size files and envelopes in ballot boxes that could have been placed in it through the opening of ballot boxes as they cannot fit in the slots provided in the ballot boxes.”

Fiji's Minister of Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has rejected the claims.

"It is very interesting that they are now making these types of claims after the results are now coming out where it would indicate that Fiji First is going to win government,” he told Radio New Zealand.

“If they found any anomalies they should have made those concerns brought to the attention of the election officials almost immediately."

Mr Reith says the observer mission will consider the complaints before delivering its final report.
“I haven't really been aware of them until the last hour or so when I was told there would be comment of that sort,” he said as MOG and opposition held almost simultaneous press conferences.

Counting continues at polling stations across the country but it could still be days before the final counts is known.

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