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Qarase Among Early Voters As Fiji Goes To Polls

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Qarase Among Early Voters As Fiji Goes To Polls

By PETER EMBERSON: August 25, 2001 Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA (Pasifik Nius): Caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was among hundreds of voters who turned up at polling booths in Suva early today in a bid to beat the crowds as Fiji began its return to democracy.

But many of the early voters were frustrated at the slow pace of queues. The elections in Fiji take a week.

Interim Youth Employment and Sports Minister Keni Dakuidreketi, who had also joined a long queue to cast his vote, said the basic level of telecommunications in the country made it very difficult to speed the elections process.

New Labour Unity Party (NLUP) leader Dr Tupeni Baba was also present at the St Marcellin Primary School polling station in the early hours of this morning to vote.

"I wanted to vote at half past seven but look at the line? Now I don't want to do that," he said.

"I will vote later on."

Dr Baba said the lines could actually affect the government of the day.

"People voted in anger after waiting for three or four hours when they voted against SVT," he said.

He said this was going to be bad for the interim Prime Minister's party, Soqosoqo ni Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL).

"The government of the day will always be getting the wrath of people's anger," Dr Baba said with a laugh.

Deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry, leader of the Fiji Labour Party (FLP), cast a postal vote at the Ministry of Labour office yesterday.

Qarase, who cast his vote at 7.30am, said he was confident of winning his seat in the first count.


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