Seven Indo-Fijian MPs to skip polls
Fiji Labour Party (FLP) leader Mahendra Chaudhry has announced a new party line-up for the country's general elections scheduled in May.
As many as seven sitting Indo-Fijian FLP MPs do not figure in the party's initial list of 25 candidates announced Tuesday.
A report in the Fiji Times newspaper quoted Macuatua East Open MP Krishna Datt as saying that though he had planned to retire at the end of his current parliamentary term, he has been persuaded to contest again.
This time, however, he will stand from the Nasinu Indian Communal seat. He will replace Pratap Chand, who has decided to skip the elections this year because of his wife's health.
In the Lautuka City Indian Communal seat, Sugarcane Research Centre officer Jai Shree Gawander will replace Ganesh Chand. In the Ba East Indian Communal seat, Satendra Singh has made way for former Sugarcane Growers Council chairman Jain Kumar as the FLP candidate.
According to the new list, Chaitanya Lakshman, a lawyer, will contest from the Viti Levu South Indian communal seat in place of sitting MP Prince Gopal Lakshman.
In another Indian Communal seat, Macuata East/Cakaudrove, a former senior information officer, Vijay Chand has been named the FLP candidate in place of Ram Charan.
A retired school principal, Dewan Chand, will contest Laucala Indian communal seat instead of Kamlesh Arya.
Retired school principal Dewan Chand replaces Kamlesh Arya as the Labour candidate for the Laucala Indian communal seat.
Other FLP MPs standing from Indian Communal seats are: Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi (Nadroga), Sanjeet Maharaj (Viti Levu East Maritime), Anand Babla (Tavua), Udit Narayan (Lautuka Rural), Ragho Nand (Tailevu/Reva) and Amjad Ali (Nadi Urban).
Most of the 71 seats of the country's House of Representatives are reserved for ethnic groups. Indo-Fijians constitute 43 percent of Fiji's population of over 890,000. Only 25 seats are subject to open election.
FLP leader and former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry will contest from the Ba Open constituency while sitting Ba West Indian Communal MP Gaffar Ahmed will contest the Magodro Open seat replacing Gyan Singh.
Other new faces in the FLP list are: Tomasi Tokalauvere (Tailevu North/Ovalau Ope), Azim Hussein (Nasinu/Rewa Open), Ramesio Rogovakalali (Cunningham Open), Vijay Krishna Nair (Laucala Open), Tom Ricketts (Suva City Open), Filimone Lacanivalu (Lami Open), Mesulame Rakuro (Nadroga Open), Peni Dakua (Serua/Navosa Open) and Lemeki Qalibau (Bua/Macuata West Open).
Chaudhry said that FLP would soon announce the rest of its candidates. Fiji goes to the polls from May 6 to 13, five months ahead of schedule.