Former Fiji premier complains over bloodshed threats

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The Independent Online
Voters are being intimidated by threats of unrest and bloodshed if the ousted democratic government regains power in elections later this month, former Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry said Wednesday.</p>Chaudhry, an ethnic Indian whose Labor Party government was ousted by a nationalist coup, said he complained to the United Nations and the British Commonwealth over threats in a widelyâ“distributed leaflet warning "there would be bloodshed if Labor is voted in."</p>It added: "It won't only be Fijian blood this time" a reference which Chaudhry said means Indoâ“Fijians would also face possible violence.</p>Armed Fijian gunmen ousted Chaudhry and his government after they stormed the Parliament on May 19, last year, claiming they were acting on behalf of indigenous Fijians. The lawmakers were held hostage for eight weeks before being released.</p>Ethnic Indians make up 44 percent of the country's 820,000 population.</p>An interim military government rules the South Pacific island nation, and has called fresh general elections for August 25.</p>Chaudhry said rival parties have made statements warning violence will occur if the Labor Party wins power.</p>"Certainly our rivals are doing this, they did it the last time. They are trying to instill fear in voters," said Chaudhry.</p>Chaudhry said inaction by police was allowing voters to be intimidated by threats. He said complaints have been lodged with the law enforcement agencies but they have been slow in investigating.</p>"It is inaction by the enforcement authorities to do anything in relation to the threats which are aimed at intimidating voters" which led him to complain to the international bodies, he added.</p>Police and army officers investigating the leaflets say they have some indication of who is behind it, but gave no details.</p>A team of 40 United Nations election observers is expected in Fiji by the end of the week. The U.N. General Assembly July 25 authorized a U.N. Electoral Observer Mission to Fiji to monitor the elections, and the immediate post election environment.</p>

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