Fijian High Chief Pleads For Acceptance Of Ballot
September 2, 2001
Wansolwara Online (USP)
SUVA (Pasifik Nius): A western Fijian high chief has called on the people of Fiji to accept the new government that will be formed after the general election ended yesterday, the Sun reports today.
Speaking in Ba, the Labour stronghold of deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, the Turaga Na Tui Ba, Ratu Sairusi Nagagavoka, told the newspaper the choice of the people was important and should be respected at all times,
"This is the legal way forward for the country," Ratu Sairusi said.
"If the people want to have a Fijian, Chinese, Punjabi or Indian prime minister, then let it be. Who are we to change what the majority of the people in this country want?"
Ratu Sairusi said Fiji could not afford to go through another political crisis like last year's May 19 coup, the paper reported.
"That was illegal and everyone has had enough of all the rioting, burning, looting and bloodshed that have occurred because it is taking us nowhere," he said.
Political observers are already pointing to a Labour victory - the party is expected to gain the largest single block of seats but it is uncertain whether it would have an outright majority.
Election officials have said an estimated 83 per cent of registered voters cast their votes in the seven-day poll which ended yesterday. In the last election in 1999, 90 percent of registered voters took part in the poll.
Voting is compulsory in Fiji and defaulters risk a $20 fine.
Police said tight security would be mounted by more than 400 police officers at the four national counting centres set up in Suva for the regional zones - Northern, Western, Central and Eastern.
Counting begins tomorrow.