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UN is worried over attempts to intimidate voters

UN worried over voter intimidation Issue No: 1034 24 August 2001

The United Nations is worried over attempts to intimidate voters.

Media reports state that the UN Observer Group has expressed concern at the threats made to intimidate voters, particularly the Indian voters. The leaflets, stating that voting for the Fiji Labour Party would see bloodshed in the country, has been distributed in the Suva area.

It is believed that the leaflet has its origins in the National Federation Party. An NFP employee, Kamal Iyer, has been identified by insiders in the NFP as the person encouraging the distribution of the leaflet.

Meanwhile, reports of drug-doped supporters of the NLUP, a party with which the NFP has made a deal sharing preferences, have been intimidating voters in the Lautoka area. Reports of these thugs going around in settlements and threatening bloodshed, have been received by the Fiji Labour Party.

A Daily Post report yesterday stated:

Head of the mission, Nguyen Huu Dong says leaflets threatening voters had been brought to their attention.

Mr Nguyen says the group has reported the matter to the Elections Office as well as the police.

"It was brought to our attention that there are leaflets floating around, threatening certain section of voters. So we reported the matter to the Elections Office and two Assistant Police Commissioners also gave us their assurance to investigate the matter," Mr Dong said.

The 40-member United Nations Observer Group, however, says that they are here not to interfere but be the ears and eyes of the international community during the election.

They will monitor the impartially of the electoral authorities, polling activities and the counting.

The team comprises members from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Chile, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Korea, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Surinam, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Viet Nam.

Mr Dong says the UN is committed to seeing Fiji return to democratic rule.

"We will visit constituencies and counting centres and observe most of Fiji's more than 800 polling stations. We will also monitor the announcement of results and the immediate post-election environment." He said

"So basically, this is part of our job here. We are here not to interfere but to observe and keep a close tab on the happenings."

He says the group is working on a pre-election report that will be presented to the UN Secretariat.

END

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