Fiji elections proceeding in orderly manner UN observers say

The general elections began on 25 August, with the opening of 165 polling stations throughout the island nation and some 70,000 Fijians casting their ballots for 71 legislative seats. Voting will continue through Saturday, due to the country’s geography and electoral system, which requires voters to cast ballots once in a communal constituency and again in an open one, according to the UN Fiji Electoral Observer Mission (UNFEOM).The Mission reported the elections were taking place in what seemed to be a “relaxed atmosphere,” the only hitches in the process being long lines to vote and some missing election material and equipment, such as posters and computers to check voters’ names on the electoral roll. In most places, those problems were fixed later in the day.Since 23 August, UNFEOM has deployed 20 teams of observers to different locations, including three small island groups. On Saturday, UN teams were on hand at 140 polling sites to witness station openings and closings, balloting and complaint procedures, and the transportation of sealed ballot boxes.Together with the Commonwealth and the European Union observer groups, UNFEOM also witnessed the vote of the President of Fiji on the first day. The President warmly welcomed the UN’s presence and expressed confidence that “the elections will be carried out in a free and fair manner and safeguard Fiji’s return to constitutional democracy.”

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