3 Sep 2014

Polling begins in Fiji election

4:26 pm on 3 September 2014

Voting at polling stations around Fiji has started in the country's landmark election, the first since the ousting of the last elected government in 2006.

Today 62 communities are among the 66,000 voters who have been asked to cast their votes early.

They make up more than 10 percent of Fiji's registered voters and are required to vote early because they live in remote areas or are part of services like the police and military.

Voting is taking place at schools, community halls and village sheds on Fiji's two main islands and in the west of the country.

Voting in the eastern islands begins tomorrow.

The main election day is September 17th.

Fiji's SODELPA party has rushed through the training of its observers to scrutinise early voting.

SODELPA's General Secretary, Pio Tabaiwalu, says the party aims to have three polling agents at each venue and the party has been busy recruiting local villagers.

He says like other parties, they were caught by surprise by the prepolling and he says the international observer mission will be crucial in scrutinising the polls especially in the next two weeks.

"Many parties do not have party agents on the ground and they're really depending on the observer mission to look at all the process from taking the ballot boxes to the prepolls, observing the polling itself and also the filling of the boxes and the transportation of the boxes back to Suva. And they have to be stored until the 17th."

Pio Tabaiwalu of Fiji's SODELPA party.

Fiji's new ballot boxes with old box in foreground

Fiji's new ballot boxes with old box in foreground Photo: RNZ