16 Jan 2004

Fiji holds by-election for Tavua Open seat

6:16 am on 16 January 2004

About 18,000 voters in Fiji's Tavua Open constituency will go to the polls today to elect their new member of parliament.

The seat became vacant when the Fiji Labour Party MP, Pravin Singh, died in a motor accident late last year.

Tavua Open is one of the 25 multi-racial seats in Fiji's House of Representatives in which 46 other MPs are elected along racial lines by the indigenous Fijians, ethnic Indians and the general communities.

The ruling SDL, Labour and the National Federation parties have official candidates in the by-election which also has four independents contesting.

Extra police have been brought in because of heightened tension.

This comes after the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, had compared the NFP leader, Prem Singh, to a howling and barking dog in his criticism of Labour and fit only for debate with Mr Chaudhry's dog.