Fiji is just three days away from its first election in eight years.
But the voting process isn’t straightforward. Some say it favours Frank Bainimarama, who seized power in a military coup in 2006. This report was filed before a media ban, to be enforced tomorrow morning.
It’s been a long, frustrating wait for democracy for Fijian Shamima Ali. She’s been fighting for the right to vote in Fiji for eight years. On Wednesday she’ll finally do it.
“It’s very exciting,” she says. “It’s very important. It’s important for me; it’s important for everyone in Fiji.”
There are seven parties, 249 candidates. The streets of Suva are full of their faces, their promises.
Mr Bainimarama’s Fiji First is the likely winner, but the Social Democratic Liberal Party is closing in fast.
“There are going to be surprises for some people,” says Ms Ali. “I don’t think it will be clear-cut.”
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Around 570,000 Fijians are expected to vote.
On the voting paper, each candidate has been assigned one of various numbers. There are no names, no party logos.
“It’s going to be hard for the average Fijian to vote, having to remember a number, having to vote and remember a number with many other numbers on the grid,” says Nik Naidu from the Coalition for Democracy. “It will be a huge challenge.”
Mr Bainimarara is number 279, and it is everywhere. He devised the voting system. His critics aren’t convinced he’s playing fair.
“Why were so many ballot papers printed?” asks Mr Naidu “Is there control over the process of security of the ballot? Those are the big question marks and who is in charge and who is in control.”
Mr Bainimarama has also implemented a media blackout on election campaigning from tomorrow morning. The fine is $10,000 or prison.
Candidates will spend tonight pulling down any campaign material and billboards. It has to be gone by midnight. The polls open first thing on Wednesday morning. Fijians can then finally have their say.