26 May 2006

Calls in Fiji for a commission of inquiry into recent general elections

6:54 am on 26 May 2006

The Fiji Labour Party is calling on the government to set up a commission of inquiry into irregularities in the recent general elections.

The Fiji Sun reports that the call has come from Lavenia Padarath, who narrowly lost the Nausori / Naitasisiri Open seat in both the 2001 and this month's elections.

Mrs Padarath says it makes her question the credibility of international election observers when they say the elections were free and fair.

She says the observers only say that because they did not witness any violence and bloodshed.

The Labour Party, which is now part of the multi-party cabinet, has prepared an eight-page list of what it says were election irregularities and sent it to more than 20 organisations and individuals including foreign diplomatic missions in Suva.

The letter alleges that the Elections Office conspired with some returning officers to commit serious acts of election irregularities to ensure an SDL victory.

The prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has described the claims of conspiracy as outrageous and called on the Labour Party to provide proof and take it up with the relevant authorities.