Fiji president urges violence-free election

Fijian President Epeli Nailatikau called for a violence-free election Tuesday as the South Pacific nation prepares to return to democracy almost eight years after a military coup.

AFP| Last Updated: Sep 16, 2014, 13:22 PM IST

Suva: Fijian President Epeli Nailatikau called for a violence-free election Tuesday as the South Pacific nation prepares to return to democracy almost eight years after a military coup.

Nailatikau said there was no room for threats or intimidation in Wednesday`s poll and all parties should accept the result of a ballot he described as "the first free and fair elections in our history".

"Do not be intimidated by threats of violence or actual violence," he told a function in Suva. 

"I urge all political parties and their supporters not to intimidate anyone or engage in any untoward activity.

"Democracy is about allowing all individuals to vote freely without fear or favour. We must all accept the will of the people and unify as a nation."

Fiji`s ballot is seen as pivotal to ending the country`s "coup culture", which saw four governments toppled between 1987 and 2006, largely due to tensions between indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians.

The lead up to Wednesday`s election has been violence-free but military commander Mosese Tikoitoga said the army was on standby after receiving reports about voters being intimidated. He did not release details of the alleged threats.

"The very same people who didn`t want the military to provide the security... are now creating an atmosphere of intimidation against the people or parties that want to cast their vote in a free and fair environment," he told the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation.

Former military chief Voreqe Bainimarama, who took power in a 2006 coup, is tipped to win the election with his FijiFirst party.