QARASE COALITION WEAKENING

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Aug 1) – Fiji’s oldest political party is on the offside with the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase for threatening to withdraw its preferential votes in the 2006 General Elections.

Qarase says he will approach other Indian dominated parties if the National Federation Party does not to give his ruling Soqosoqo Duavata Lewenivanua party their preferences in the 2006 poll.

[PIR editor's note: In the Fiji preferential voting system, political party "A" may designate another political party to receive party "A's" votes if a candidate from party "A" is not one of the top vote getters in a particular riding and the individual voter does not designate a preference.]   

The NFP secretary Pramod Rae said during the party’s AGM on Sunday that it would not give its preferences to SDL in the election if the controversial Reconciliation, Tolerance and Unity Bill is passed.

"You are in power today because of our preferential votes NFP gave you in 2001," Rae said.

"If you are going to pass this Bill, do not count on us. We will not support you if you rail road this evil Bill in Parliament."

This morning, Qarase admits his party owes some of its seats in Parliament to the NFP but also warned that NFP may be digging its own grave if it snubbed SDL.

"We are concerned as a party if NFP decides not to give us their preferences," Qarase told Fijilive.

"They too will need our preferences because if they want to win seats they can win it through the preferences of SDL.

"That bit of comment (by Rae) is immature and a bit irresponsible.

"The SDL will always be prepared to work in liaison with NFP in terms of approaching the next general election.

"If they are not willing to come over then we will have to approach other Indian dominated parties."

The SDL has given its backing to a move to unite all indigenous Fijian political parties prior to the elections.

In its second meeting last Saturday, the ‘grand Fijian coalition’ pledged to share preferences in the 2006 General Elections.

The opposition Fiji Labour Party, newly formed National Alliance party and Mick Beddoes’ United People’s Party have also begun informal talks to form a partnership for the election.

The NFP has yet to begin informal talks with other political parties. Rae said the party would seek out the middle ground in Fiji politics and would coalesce with parties that shared its ideologies.

Monday, August 1, 2005

Fijilive: www.fijilive.com

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