18 May 2006

Laucala recount will decide if Fiji's SDL has majority on its own

7:07 am on 18 May 2006

The recount in Fiji of the Laucala Open seat will determine whether the SDL Party will have won an absolute majority in the new 71-member parliament.

The recount is still under way and comes after the SDL won the seat by 17 votes which, under Fiji eletctoral rules is is too small a winning margin to be accepted in a first count.

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, has refused to concede defeat and says he is talks with the two independents to form a majority.

But the SDL leader, Laisenia Qarase, says he has the backing of the independents and will proceed to form a government today.

Should the recount of the Laucala seat confirm the SDL victory there, the party will have an outright majority in the parliament on its own.

Mr Qarase has said he will abide by the constitution and invite Labour to join the government.

The constitution entitles any parties winning ten percent of the seats to a share of ministries in proportion to their representation in parliament.

After the 2001 election, Labour only went into opposition after three years of failed negotiations with the SDL over how to share the portfolios.