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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 May 2006, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Polling ends in Fijian election
Policeman inspects ballot boxes in Suva, Fiji
Ballot boxes have arrived in the capital from across the country
Polls have closed in Fiji's week-long general election, after a campaign marked by ethnic tensions.

Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's mainly Fijian SDL party and the mainly ethnic Indian Labour party of Mahendra Chaudhry both say they expect victory.

Preliminary figures put turnout at about 52% of 470,000 eligible voters, the Reuters news agency reported.

Counting is not expected to begin until Monday, with the final result due on Wednesday, officials said.

Fiji's electoral office said it expected turnout to reach 70% by the time ballot papers are counted from across the country.

Prime Minister Qarase pledged to form a government including native and ethnic Indian Fijians if his party was returned to power.

"We will have probably the most multiracial line-up on a government side in any general election since independence," he said.

But Mr Chaudhry insisted that "no-one will take him seriously".

Ethnic tensions have dominated Fijian politics since 2000, when a military coup deposed Mr Chaudhry, then serving as the country's first ethnic Indian prime minister.




SEE ALSO:
Ex-Fijian PM faces mutiny charge
12 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Race issue central to Fiji poll
06 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Fiji election
05 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Fiji
08 Mar 06 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Fiji
12 May 06 |  Country profiles


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