READY TO LEAD FIJI, SAYS CHAUDHRY

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SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 18, 1999 – Daily Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry says he is ready to take over from Sitiveni Rabuka as Fiji's fourth prime minister, the Daily Post reports.

Mr. Rabuka is expected to go to Government House today to hand in his government's resignation after a humiliation at the polls. He conceded defeat last night.

However, two of his ministers retained their seats in the country's biggest election whitewash, leaving the way for the Labour/Fijian Association Party/Party of National Unity coalition to form a government.

All eyes are now focused on the President, Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the only man who has the power to appoint the Prime Minister.

Section 98 of the 1997 Constitution empowers the president, acting in his own judgement, to appoint as Prime Minister the Member of the House of Representatives who, in the President's opinion, can form a government that has the confidence of the House of Representatives.

Mr. Chaudhry is the obvious party choice for the position, although there are other contenders, including Professor Tupeni Baba of the University of the South Pacific.

Then there is Adi Vuikaba Speed, the leader of the Fijian Association Party and FLP's coalition partner.

Adi Kuini carries a lot of respect in the coalition and in the FLP as a former Labour president, after the death of her husband Dr. Timoci Bavadra.

But Mr. Chaudhry was forthright in his desire to become PM.

"It is the Labour Party which has the majority in this election and that's what democracy is all about, and the people have given their mandate, and that mandate must be respected," he said.

* Latest abridged tally, according to Island Networks radio: Fiji Labour Party 34 seats, Rabuka's SVT party 8 seats.

Title -- 2111 POLITICS: Labour's Chaudhry ready to lead Fiji Date -- 18 May 1999 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Fiji Daily Post, 18/5/99 Copyright – DP Status -- Abridged

FIVE MINISTERS LOSE SEATS IN FIJI ELECTION SO FAR

SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 17, 1999 – Daily Post/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Five government ministers have lost their seats and two others are fighting for political survival, as the Fiji Labour Party today consolidated its position in the general election, the Daily Post reports.

In the west, Attorney-General Ratu Etuate Tavai has lost his seat and so has Trade Minister Isimeli Bose.

In Suva, Youth Minister Jonetani Kaukimoce lost his seat to Fijian Association Party candidate Ema Tagicakibau.

Assistant ministers Viliame Cavubati, Ratu Josefa Dimuri, and Kiniviliame Taukeinikoro have lost their seats.

Foreign Affairs Minister Berenado Vunibobo and Planning Minister Filipe Bole were fighting for survival.

Both Mr. Bose and Ratu Tavai lost their seats to the Party of National Unity early this morning as the Labour/Fijian Association Party/PANU coalition strengthened its position.

But PANU secretary-general Apisai Tora is struggling to win his seat.

On the other hand, FAP leader Adi Kuini Speed has won her Navosa/Nadroga Open seat.

"With the way things are going FLP is looking at winning 35 seats," FLP spokesman Rajendra Chaudhry said about the new 71-seat Parliament.

Cafe Pacific's Election Report: "THE POLITICS OF REVENGE" http://www.asiapac.org.fj/cafepacific/resources/aspac/fiji2.html

Pacific Journalism Online Report http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/docs/news/election1.html

Title -- 2110 POLITICS: Labour heads for landslide win in Fiji Date -- 17 May 1999 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Fiji Daily Post "special edition," 17/5/99 Copyright – DP Status – Abridged

This document is for educational and research use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius: E-mail: niusedita@pactok.net.au Website: http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html

FIJI’S PRIME MINISTER RABUKA ACCEPTS GOVERNMENT’S DEFEAT

SUVA, Fiji Islands (May 17, 1999 – PACNEWS/INCL)---Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has accepted defeat in the country’s first election since the military coups of 1987.

Although counting is still going in, Rabuka’s coalition with the Indo-Fijian dominated National Federation Party has suffered a resounding defeat.

"I have conceded defeat and will hand in my resignation letter as Prime Minister tomorrow," Rabuka said.

He said the swing in the vote clearly indicates the people of Fiji want a change in Government, policies and personalities.

The out-going Prime Minister expressed the hope that his coalition would be sufficiently intact to form a workable Opposition. Rabuka’s defeat means Fiji is set for an Indo-Fijian dominated Government for the first time in 12 years.

It was the Fiji-Indians who lost political power when Rabuka led the two military coups in 1987. The Fiji Labour Party led by trade unionist Mahendra Chaudhry looks set to form the next Government.

"I am confident of forming the new Government with my coalition partners, the Fijian Association (FA) and the Party of National Unity (PANU). There is widespread support for the coalition from all races in Fiji," Chaudhry said.

Already the Fiji Labour Party/FA coalition has 22 seats of the 71 seats in parliament. Counting is still in progress at four count centers around the country. Complete results should be known by Wednesday.

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