10 May 2007

Questions over integrity of election audit team in Fiji

10:53 am on 10 May 2007

There are questions over the integrity of the team in Fiji which has reported uncovering problems in last year's elections.

The interim Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, says thousands of unused ballot papers are missing and there was a massive overprinting of them which proves that the elections were rigged and there was an attempt to manipulate the results.

The Elections Office rejects the allegations and points out that unused ballot papers have nothing to do with election results as it is the votes that have been cast which are counted.

The deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, says Mr Chaudhry personally appointed the team which did the audit so he questions its integrity.

He says the audit doesn't undermine the election results.

"The elections were monitored and evaluated by quite a number of overseas observers, as well as observers from the Pacific region, and from within Fiji. And, they came to one conclusion - that the general elections of 2006 was free and fair, and that the outcome reflected the will of the people."

Laisenia Qarase.