WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (AP) – An international group that monitored Fiji’s general election this week said yesterday it didn’t observe any voting irregularities and the process was transparent and credible.
The group’s comments came after five of the political parties that contested the election said they were launching a nationwide petition because they had no faith in the integrity of election officials.
The election dispute threatens to destabilise the Pacific nation’s fragile democracy, which has been marred by four military coups in the past 35 years. This year’s election has pitted two former coup leaders against each other. Sitiveni Rabuka, who led the first coup back in 1987 and later served as an elected prime minister in the 1990s, emerged as the main challenger to Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, who has held power for the past 16 years.
Australian lawmaker and co-chair of the 90-strong Multinational Observer Group (MOG) Rebekha Sharkie told reporters in Fiji that the group had unrestricted access to observe key elements of the election. “The MOG did not observe any significant irregularities or issues during pre-polling, postal voting or election-day voting,” Sharkie said. “The MOG assesses that Fijian voters were able to exercise their right to vote freely.”