Fiji opposition seeks to stop election

Fiji's main opposition party is asking a court to postpone the volatile South Pacific nation's May elections, arguing that the voter registration has put ethnic Indians at a disadvantage, a lawyer said Wednesday.

A court action filed Tuesday by the Fiji Labour Party of former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry accuses election authorities and the attorney general of failing to comply with electoral law, Labour Party lawyer Rajen Chaudhry said.

The writ claimed errors and serious irregularities in registering voters which will disadvantage ethnic Indian voters. Fiji has communal electoral rolls in which voters are registered according to race.

Residents who failed to appear on the voter rolls or were put in the wrong constituency "are predominantly Indians," Chaudhry said.

"In terms of Indian voters the misplacement numbers are in the thousands in some constituencies and certainly in the upper hundreds in most of the other constituencies," he told The Associated Press.

Only one minor Fijian party has raised objections over "some 19 or 20 voters" being placed on the wrong rolls, he said.

The writ, which names the supervisor of elections, the Electoral Commission and the attorney general as defendants, asks that the May 6-13 election be deferred, according to government-owned Radio Fiji.

Chaudhry's ethnic Indian-led government was ousted in an armed coup by indigenous Fijians in 2000. Labour lost the subsequent September 2001 election to an indigenous Fijian coalition, reports the AP.

I.L.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team