QARASE MULLS EARLY FIJI ELECTIONS

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Feb. 22) – Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was considering whether to call a general election by mid next month or at the end of April, when the 30-day period for polls to be held will be effective.

This has been confirmed by the chief executive in the Prime Minister's Office, Joji Kotobalavu – who warns however that an election date can only be determined after confirmation has been received from the Boundaries Commission and Election Commission.

Kotobalavu said the general election key stakeholders are the Boundaries Commission and the Election Commission making sure processes were reviewed and revised.

He said the Boundaries Commission has to update its records if there was a change in the election constituency boundaries.

"[If] There is population change, then the Elections Office will have to revise their records on registered people because of the change in boundaries for the elections," Kotobalavu said.

"It is the Prime Minister's prerogative, whenever he decides it's the right time for the elections to take place; he will only have to advise the President's Office of his decision. So it is wise for the Elections Office to always be ready for the elections, be it early or later in the year," he added.

Kotobalavu confirmed that the Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase was mindful of when to hold the elections.

Supervisor of Elections Semesa Karavaki said earlier that his office would be ready to hold polling by the end of next month.

[PIR editor’s note: Prime Minister Qarase was reported saying last week that an early election would rule out passing of the controversial Unity Bill. The Fiji military has also called for a census to clear up the issue of outdated boundaries.]

February 23, 2006

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