The 2006 general elections were rigged

The Fiji Labour Party is extremely concerned with the manner in which the 2006 general elections were conducted.

There was clear evidence of electoral rigging of the polls, and before that, to disenfranchise voters through the registration process.

A number of candidates have indicated they will mount legal challenges to the results of several Open seats in the Central Division.

Missing names from registration rolls

Major flaws in voter registration dictated against the conduct of free and fair elections by disenfranchising hundreds of voters who would have voted for the Fiji Labour Party.

The issue of missing names become even more crucial in closely contested seats where Labour lost by as few as 9 votes. Scores of voters at polling stations for these constituencies were turned away when their names could not be found on the rolls even though they carried registration slips.

This is not something we are bringing up now that Labour has lost. We have consistently, right from the time when registration began in September 2005, highlighted serious flaws in the registration process and in the compilation of the electoral rolls.

FLP believes these omissions were deliberate to thwart and frustrate FLP voters.

Irregularities in ballot boxes

The FLP is particularly concerned with the sudden inclusion of 12 unidentified boxes at the verification process of ballot papers for the Naitasiri/Nausori Open constituency. This matter will be taken to court.

Record number of Invalid Votes

“How to Vote” ads put out by the Elections Office in Hindi telling voters that they could tick above the line or below the line, has contributed substantially to the high number of invalid votes.

This was clearly wrong and a deliberate attempt by the Elections Office to mislead the Indian voter. The result of this misinformation is reflected in the record number of invalid votes – put at close to 30,000 for this election.

These TV ads were not withdrawn despite our protests until the very eve of the general election.

The Elections office also put out ads misinforming the Indian voter that they could register until July 2006.

All this make the Elections Office a part of conspiracy to misinform and disenfranchise the Indian voter.

Multi Party Cabinet

Despite the fact that the system was deliberately stacked against the Fiji Labour Party, the FLP/UPP/PANU Coalition still won 33 seats, evidence of our overwhelming support from the people.

The 2006 general election results are very close, giving no party a clear and confident majority to govern. It is clear that Laisenia Qarase and the SDL have neither the capability nor the leadership qualities required to take this nation out of its current critical state.

Fiji is today in a crisis situation.

The past five years have witnessed gross mismanagement of the national economy and abuse of public finances. The nation is trapped in a cycle of economic stagnation, with limited growth, falling exports, low investor confidence, and unprecedented levels of poverty, unemployment and corruption.

Mr Qarase cannot provide the leadership that is needed today to rescue the nation from this crisis. Fiji needs dedicated leadership at this critical juncture. It needs leadership that can provide a new direction and vision to move our nation forward, and ensure a stable government.

Transparency, accountability, good governance and adherence to the rule of law are very important. Mr. Qarase must also abandon racially divisive policies.

These can only be achieved through a truly multi-party and a multi-cultural government which has the support also of key national institutions. Only a government that adheres to the rule of law and stays well within the bounds of the Constitution can provide the much needed national security about which our people remain apprehensive because of the SDL’s complete disregard for law and order.

Unless the power sharing provisions of the Constitution are complied with both in intent and in spirit, our nation faces a bleak future.

For this reason, the FLP calls on the Prime Minister to do that which is right and proper, putting the interests of our nation and our people ahead of other considerations.