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Fiji Votes In Peace But Police Gear Up For Result

Fiji Votes In Peace But Police Gear Up For Result

SUVA: (The Age/PacnewsPacwin/Pacific Media Watch): As Fiji enters its fifth day of polling, the country's most senior police will meet in Suva on Saturday (13 May) to develop a 10-step, 12-month strategy for avoiding a fourth coup in 20 years.

"The way we've approached it is to look at various scenarios," said Fiji's Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes, The Age reports

"A number of these will be cut out once we know the result of the elections. But in the meantime we're keeping it broad."

Pacnews has been informed police would then meet military top brass next week to reach a cooperative arrangement between the two security organisations.

Election observers from the University of the South Pacific predicted it could take two to three months for the volatile political situation to settle after a result is announced on 18 May.

In May 2000, after 12 months in office, the then prime minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, and his cabinet and staff were held hostage for 56 days and dismissed after a coup led by renegade businessman George Speight.

Chaudhry has said he would accept the role of prime minister again if his Fiji Labour Party topples the ruling Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party of incumbent Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Qarase has said Fiji was not ready for an Indo-Fijian prime minister.

Although police and military leaders have cancelled all leave to be on call during the polling period, it was traditionally a peaceful time, the USP chief observer, Graham Hassall, said.

Hassall and his team had seen no evidence of intimidation at polling stations.

"The question is not, who will win, but what will the loser do?" he said.

Hughes echoed this view.

"The challenge is, when the outcome is known, whether they'll accept the referee or the umpire's decision," he said.

+++niuswire

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