Conservative Fijian Parties Edge Into Lead
By TOMASI RAIYAWA and SHIRLENE GOUNDAR: September 6, 2001 Wansolwara Online (USP)
SUVA (Pasifik Nius): With nine seats still to be counted today, the Soqosoqo Dauvata ni Lewenivanua party of caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his allies were edging closer to a narrow majority in the Fiji general election.
Labour were still the leaders overall with 27 seats - compared to the SDL's 23, and the George Speight-backing Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua, which had six seats.
The moderate parties have been wiped out in this election, heralding a return to democracy with a polarised Parliament.
Deposed Minister of Women and Social Welfare Lavenia Padarath lost her Nausori/Naitasiri seat on the fifth preferences count to SDL candidate Asaeu Masilaca.
Masilaca dedicated the win to his wife who had died before the election.
She told me to carry on with the elections since she was confined to bed during the whole year. I cannot hold back tears, since my wife encouraged me alot," he said.
The Tailevu North Open seat was won by the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) candidate, Jo Vosanibole. However, his victory faced hitches from defeated candidates.
Fiji Labour Party candidate Watisoni Waqaicere said he and other candidates would raise objections on technicalities.
"Firstly, we noticed from two polling stations, that boxes arrived with their tally sheets and butts found later in another box with other left over stuff," Waqaicere said.
The second complaint was over the use of an official red coloured marking pen to tick votes.
"We saw the use of red and green pens which is unofficial during election. This was found in great numbers. We have asked the presiding officers about it and they said that they hand ran out of ink and .. you know...voters have to use the same coloured pens the officers are using."
Waqaicere claimed the same incident happened in the Cunningham Open seat where Joeli Kalou (sitting FLP member) was defeated. According to Waqa, Kalou said the presiding officer was informed who later said that it had been authorised by the commissioner.
Waqaicere said: "We should be notified about the legality of the use of green and red pens. The use of red pens was found mostly on SDL votes and the party of Matanitu Vanua - and in great numbers. The question is, why don't the FLP voters use red pens?"
The disgruntled parties included the VLV, SVT and FLP.
Latest winners are:
Asaeli Masilaca (SDL) wins
Nausori Naitasiri Open
Sanjeet Chand Maharaj (FLP) wins Viti levu East/Maritime Indian Communal
Ragho Nand (IND)
wins Tailevu/Rewa Indian Communal
Jone Yavala Kubuabola (SDL) wins South West Fijian Urban
Savenaca Uluibau Draunidalo (IND) wins Lau/Tailevu/Rotuma
Isireli Tuvuki (SDL) wins Bua/Macuata West Open
Marieta Rigamoto (IND) wins rotuma Communal
Gyani Nand (FLP) wins Suva City Indian Communal
Irami Ului Matairavula (SDL) wins Tailevu South Fijian Provincial
Peniasi Silatolu (SDL) wins Nasinu/Rewa Open
Emasi Qovu (SDL) wins Nasinu Urban Fijian Communal
Gyan Singh (FLP) wins Magodro Open
Josefa Vosanibola (SDL) wins Tailevu North/Ovalau Open
The following seats are still up to be
North East Fijian Urban Communal
Suva City Urban Fijian Communal
Tailevu South/Lomaiviti Open
Suva City Open