By Tomasi Raiyawa and Shirlene Goundar Wansolwara Online (USP)

SUVA, Fiji Islands (September 6, 2001 -- Wansolwara Online/Pasifik Nius)---With nine seats still to be counted today, the Soqosoqo Dauvata ni Lewenivanua party of caretaker Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and his allies were edging closer to a narrow majority in the Fiji general election.

Labour were still the leaders overall with 27 seats -- compared to the SDL's 23, and the George Speight-backing Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua, which had six seats.

The moderate parties have been wiped out in this election, heralding a return to democracy with a polarized Parliament.

Deposed Minister of Women and Social Welfare Lavenia Padarath lost her Nausori/Naitasiri seat on the fifth preferences count to SDL candidate Asaeu Masilaca.

Masilaca dedicated the win to his wife, who had died before the election.

She told me to carry on with the elections since she was confined to bed during the whole year. I cannot hold back tears, since my wife encouraged me a lot," he said.

The Tailevu North Open seat was won by the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) candidate, Jo Vosanibole. However, his victory faced hitches from defeated candidates.

Fiji Labour Party candidate Watisoni Waqaicere said he and other candidates would raise objections on technicalities.

"Firstly, we noticed from two polling stations, that boxes arrived with their tally sheets and butts found later in another box with other left over stuff," Waqaicere said.

The second complaint was over the use of an official red colored marking pen to tick votes.

"We saw the use of red and green pens, which is unofficial during election. This was found in great numbers. We have asked the presiding officers about it and they said that they had ran out of ink and . . .you know . . .voters have to use the same colored pens the officers are using."

Waqaicere claimed the same incident happened in the Cunningham Open seat where Joeli Kalou (sitting FLP member) was defeated. According to Waqa, Kalou said the presiding officer was informed, who later said that it had been authorized by the commissioner.

Waqaicere said: "We should be notified about the legality of the use of green and red pens. The use of red pens was found mostly on SDL votes and the party of Matanitu Vanua -- and in great numbers. The question is, why don't the FLP voters use red pens?"

The disgruntled parties included the VLV, SVT and FLP.

Latest winners are:

Asaeli Masilaca (SDL) wins Nausori Naitasiri Open

Sanjeet Chand Maharaj (FLP) wins Viti Levu East/Maritime Indian Communal

Ragho Nand (IND) wins Tailevu/Rewa Indian Communal

Jone Yavala Kubuabola (SDL) wins South West Fijian Urban

Savenaca Uluibau Draunidalo (IND) wins Lau/Tailevu/Rotuma

Isireli Tuvuki (SDL) wins Bua/Macuata West Open

Marieta Rigamoto (IND) wins Rotuma Communal

Gyani Nand (FLP) wins Suva City Indian Communal

Irami Ului Matairavula (SDL) wins Tailevu South Fijian Provincial Communal

Peniasi Silatolu (SDL) wins Nasinu/Rewa Open

Emasi Qovu (SDL) wins Nasinu Urban Fijian Communal

Gyan Singh (FLP) wins Magodro Open

Josefa Vosanibola (SDL) wins Tailevu North/Ovalau Open

The following seats are still up to be decided:

North East Fijian Urban Communal

Suva City Urban Fijian Communal

Tailevu South/Lomaiviti Open

Cunningham Open

Laucala Open

Samabula/Tamavua Open

Suva City Open

Lomaivuna/Namosi/Kadavu Open

Lami Open

Title -- 3398 POLITICS: Conservative Fijian parties edge into lead Date -- 6 September 2001 Byline – None Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- Wansolwara Online, 6/9/1 Copyright -- USP Journalism Status – Unabridged

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