Fijians urged to vote after ‘worrying’ turnout in stormy weather

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Heavy rain and a flood alert remain in force today as Fiji citizens make their way to polling stations in Lower Ragg, Namadi Heights, Suva. Video: FBC News

By RNZ Pacific

More than 550,000 people were due to vote today in the election as wet and stormy weather hit Fiji.

“As at midday we are not doing very well in terms of turnout,” said the Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem.

He said some of the more worrying turnouts reported so far were in Lami in Suva and in the west of the main island where only six out of a total of 181 voters had turned out at one polling station.

“My advice to all voters is to come out and vote,” Saneem said.

The Fijian Elections Office also said it had received complaints from some areas that bus services were not operating.

SBS reporter Hannah Sinclair covering the Fiji election today. Image: PMC Twitter

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“My mother is 85 years old. Our road is flooded. No transport available. Polling centre at Visama Sanatan Dharam Primary. She wants to vote but weather is not favourable. Any help?” one voter asked on the Fijian Elections Office Facebook page.

The office had managed to contact the companies and urged them to follow an agreement to provide transport to polling stations, Saneem said.

Tropical disturbance
Fiji has just entered the cyclone season and a tropical disturbance has formed to the northwest of the country.

Officials have also been urging people to take their umbrellas and brave the bad weather.

It is a public holiday in Fiji, which is going to the polls for just the second time in 12 years.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama today … disappointed if he loses the election. Image: Sri Krishnamurthi/PMC FB

Fiji’s prime minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, said he would be disappointed if he did not win today’s election.

Bainimarama was speaking as he cast his vote at Vatuwaqa Primary School in the capital Suva.

“We’re hoping to win the majority so we can form the next government,” he told journalists.

Other political party leaders also cast their ballot at various polling stations this morning.

Sitiveni Rabuka was photographed standing in the rain in a queue with other voters at his polling station.

There are strict conditions around the media during the blackout period but journalists have been allowed to photograph all party leaders as they head to the ballot box.

Voters have a choice of 233 candidates, from six political parties, vying for 51 seats, and they have been urged to double check where they are due to vote or risk being turned away.

This article is republished under the Pacific Media Centre’s content partnership with Radio New Zealand.

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