Fijians vote in first poll since 2006 coup

2014-09-16 22:47:15 | Al Muslim News
Fijians vote in first poll since 2006 coup


Polling booths have opened in Fiji's first election since a 2006 military coup, with police reporting no early problems and a festive atmosphere prevailing in the South Pacific nation's capital. Long queues formed before doors opened on Wednesday at 7.30am (1930 Tuesday GMT) at the Vatuwaqa Public School just outside the city centre, where military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama is expected to cast his ballot later in the day. The vote is seen as pivotal to ending the country's "coup culture", which saw four governments toppled between 1987 and 2006, largely due to tensions between indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians. Irivi Draundalo, a local man who waited with hundreds of other voters outside the school, said the vote represented a return to democracy that should usher in a new era of stability. "I'm optimistic," he told the AFP news agency. "After eight years, I'm looking forward to [voting]." “There's been too many coups. Fiji needs a new government with real democracy." Some 590,000 registered voters in the population of 900,000 will have the chance to select from almost 250 candidates standing for election to a new 50-seat parliament set up under a constitution adopted in 2013. While the army has been put on standby to prevent any violence, there was no evidence of trouble in Suva, where both races queued side-by-side. "It's all going smoothly," Fiji's South African-born police commissioner Bernadus Groenewald told AFP during a brief visit to the school..

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