21 Dec 2018

Fiji opposition leader Rabuka says court’s election petition decision 'deeply disappointing'

2:50 pm on 21 December 2018

Fiji's opposition parties have issued a statement explaining why they withdrew an election petition in the Court of Disputed Returns.

Fiji's SODELPA leader, Sitiveni Rabuka.

Fiji's SODELPA leader, Sitiveni Rabuka. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

SODELPA and the National Federation Party withdrew their challenge on Thursday after the court ruled just two of their eight witnesses could give evidence.

The parties felt that to continue under these circumstances risked a substantial order for costs.

The parties have also outlined their reasons for the petition.

They said they had evidence some members of the ruling Fiji First Party had breached Electoral Act campaign rules.

They said they will now pursue these matters with Fiji's Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The parties also said they want a ruling on so called "small business grants" under which Fiji First gave away $US2.07 million dollars to more than 4,000 people in the three weeks before the election.

And they said they wanted the court to clarify the right of the Supervisor of Elections to re-count the contents of some ballot boxes, along with the process to verify postal ballots.

The leaders said the ruling showed a lack of clarity in the rules governing the Court of Disputed Returns and the Chief Justice must ensure this is fixed.

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