16 May 2006

Fiji vote count continues to show a tight race between two main parties

6:34 pm on 16 May 2006

Vote counting in Fiji has reached its half way mark amid fading hopes that it will be completed tonight.

Preliminary turnout figures are much higher than predicted, extending the suspense to see who will win.

Walter Zweifel reports fro Suva.

"Results declared so far show a tight race between the SDL Party of Laisenia Qarase and the Fiji Labour Party of Mahendra Chaudhry. While the two parties swept the Fijian and Indian seats, the first seat open to all races was won by an SDL candidate, Ratu Josefa Dimuri, a former senator who was briefly jailed for his role in the 2000 Labasa mutiny. The supervisor of elections, Semesa Karavaki, says turn-out in many constituencies is high, which is slowing the count - 'if it continues to be sitting on 90 percent, then I would be a happy man if we can be compared to the western deomocracies with a good turnout.' - Mr Karavaki acknowledges that the 100 percent plus turnout in one electorate was due to some voters casting their ballots on the wrong side of the constituency boundary. He also says the count may not be complete before tomorrow."