More than 300 candidates confirmed for Fiji elections
The elections are being held against a backdrop of continuing tensions between the government and the military.india Updated: Apr 12, 2006 13:30 IST
Nearly 350 candidates have put their names forward for next month's Fijian elections, which are being held against a backdrop of continuing tensions between the government and the military.
A total of 346 nominations have been confirmed, compared to 351 candidates for the 2001 general elections, supervisor of elections Semesa Karavaki was reported saying on Wednesday by the Fijivillage Internet news service.
The election from May 6 to 13 will pit Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) party against Mahendra Chaudhry's Fijian Labour Party and a host of minor parties.
Chaudhry was deposed as the country's first ethnic Indian prime minister in 2000 in the racially divided South Pacific country of 900,000.
The candidates represent 13 political parties as well as 66 independent candidates standing for the 71-seat parliament.
Qarase's SDL has merged with its coalition partner, the Fijian Conservative Alliance, another nationalist party set up by 2000 coup leader George Speight, who is now serving a life sentence for treason.
Qarase's SDL won 32 seats in 2001 elections and his government has ruled with the support of the Conservative Alliance.
The election is being held amid bitter divisions between the government and Chaudhry's Labour Party and also between the government and military commander Voreqe Bainimarama.
Bainimarama, who took control in the wake of the 2000 coup and arrested its leaders, is bitterly opposed to government plans to offer amnesties to coup figures.
Divisions between indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians -- first brought to Fiji during the 19th century to work in sugar plantations -- sparked two military coups in 1987 as well as Speight's 2000 rebellion.