2 Mar 2006

Observers to monitor Fiji general elections

9:43 am on 2 March 2006

Observers from six international organisations and countries will be invited to monitor Fiji's general elections to be held in the second week of May.

Fiji TV reports that observers will come from the Commonwealth, the European Union, the United Nations and the Pacific Islands Forum, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, will also be inviting the USP School of Governance to monitor the elections to help ensure they are free, fair and impartial.

Meanwhile, the supervisor of elections, Semesa Karavaki, says his office will need another US$4 million for the elections because they will take place over seven days as in 2001, and not three days as had been planned.

As well, there will be about 1,100 polling booths instead of about 700 as in the last elections.

The Elections Office has asked the education ministry to move the first term school holidays back by one week to enable the voting to take place because most polling stations are located in schools.