15 May, 2006

Vote counting begins

Counting of votes began this morning despite a hectic night verifying postal ballots. The Central Division's Returning Officer said the team was ready to take up the actual counting process with verification not expected to take up too much time. Over 298,000 voters voted during the elections out of 496,000 that had registered. Of these, around 107,000 turned out in the Central Division while around 18,600 voted in the Eastern Division and 131,200 in the Western Division. Around 41,600 votes were cast in the Northern Division. The Returning Officer in the Central Division said that out of the 28 constituencies in the Central Division, the Fijian communal constituencies recorded the highest number of votes compared to the open and other communal constituencies. This was a big change compared to previous elections. In the meantime, the Commonwealth Observer Group believes that shortcomings in the voting process over the past week are not big enough to undermine the credibility of the 2006 General Elections. The comment was made in a statement by the Commonwealth Observer Group chairperson. The chairperson said "we are not struck not so much by what went wrong during the voting but by how much went right". The Group said it would not be able to make a statement on the entire general elections until later this week.

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