Fiji's 'sudoku-like' voting papers issued

06:10, Aug 24 2014
fiji election ballot
VOTING TIME: A sample ballot for Fiji's election shows the enormity of the task voters face.

Fiji's voters have been presented with a vast sudoko-like voting paper but the country's planned democracy restoring elections next month are sliding into crisis already.

A special Sunday sitting of the High Court in Suva will go ahead this afternoon to challenge the legality of one of the key steps taken yesterday.

Under a new constitution drawn up by military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama, voters will get one vote only in the September 17 election for 50 members of parliament.

24fijiland
STRONGMAN: Fiji Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is seen at a parade in February.

In a unique move, voters will be given a ballot paper made up of a grid of 248 numbers.

Yesterday the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem conducted a draw to determine which number each candidate will get.

The three hour long lottery was held in public and by politicians.

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But the state created Fiji Electoral Commission refused to send representatives and instead have gone to court seeking to have the process declared null and void.

A hearing began last night and will continue this afternoon.

The numbers of each candidate will be formally published tomorrow but some candidates have already begun advertising and creating jingles around the numbers that they drew.

It will be vital for people to remember which number they want to vote for as Bainimarama's electoral decrees prohibit people taking written guides into the polling booths.

The top 50 polling candidates become MPs.

Bainimarama, who is in Sydney this weekend campaigning, has said he believes his FijiFirst Party will take all 50 seats.

Fiji had its last elections in 2006 under a complex voting system that was partly based on race and multiple voting.

Bainimarama staged his coup in December that year and has already failed to meet one promise to hold elections.

Fairfax Media