18 Sep 2014

Party questions break in counting

4:15 pm on 18 September 2014

Fiji's Sodelpa party is questioning why vote counting in Fiji's election has been suspended.

Fiji First leader Frank Bainimarama addresses the rally in Suva.

Fiji First leader Frank Bainimarama addresses a rally in Suva during the election campaign. Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley

Election authorities stopped announcing results early this morning, with the latest result giving overwhelming 60 percent support to the FijiFirst party of the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

The last published tally just after 6am was based on the ballots cast at just over half of the 2000-plus polling stations, with an announcement results would resume later this afternoon.

A spokesman for Sodelpa Anasa Vocea said its agents had also noticed anomalies in the transmission and final checking of the figures.

"What we don't know is why have they stopped counting."

Mr Vocea said all the parties, apart from FijiFirst, are meeting today to discuss the issue.

The election is based on proportional representation, so the votes will decide how many seats each party gets.

The Fiji election voting paper.

The Fiji election voting paper. Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley

The seats are then allocated according to how each candidates scores.

Fiji human rights campaigner Shamina Ali said it was exhilarating an election had finally taken place there but there was a lot of unfairness in the campaigning period.

Ms Ali chairs the Fijian Coalition on Human Rights and had been pushing for years for the elections to take place after Mr Bainimarama suspended them in 2007.

She said most people she had spoken to said the election was well run and seemed fair.

But she said there were still questions about the lead up.

"During campaigning there really wasn't a level playing field, and there was the fear factor also," she said.

"The NGOs (non-government organisations) were stopped, they were muzzled, they were stopped from commentating on anything, on having an opinion on anything publicly."

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said he had no immediate concerns about the integrity of the election.

The voting system was complicated but that did not mean it was not effective, Mr McCully said. However, he was reserving his final judgement.

"It is a complex system. If that has unduly affected the outcome, the international observers will no doubt tell us so, but I haven't heard that suggestion yet."

Turn out figures are not yet available and final results might not be confirmed for several days.

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