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Come clean, SDL told

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party had rigged the May election, says conman Peter Foster.

Foster late last year secretly videotaped conversations with former senior officials of the SDL Party, quizzing them about corruption, vote rigging and bribery.

The men were filmed on a camera hidden by military intelligence in a cabinet in the luxury hotel suite at JJs on the Park where Foster was being held under house arrest, awaiting trial on three charges of fraud.

Foster last week announced that he had joined the military in its "clean-up campaign" to rid Fiji of corruption and would provide the army with evidence it could use against the ousted Qarase government.

In one of the taped conversations, former SDL chairman of strategy, Navitalai Naisoro, said extra ballot papers were placed in the ballot boxes of 10 vital urban seats that the SDL needed to win in the May election.

On the tape, Foster can be heard asking: "You rigged the urban seats? The police were bribed to turn their backs?"

Naisoro replies: "You don't need to bribe them. Some of them were SDL."

During the one-week voting period, police guarded the sealed ballot boxes overnight.

However, Naisoro said the police had opened some of the boxes.

Naisoro: "The police got involved."

Foster: "What did they do?"

Naisoro: "Opened boxes. They were supposed to seal them but the police were involved in the rigging with the extra ballot papers."

Foster: "So they took out Labour (party votes) and threw them in the bin?"

Naisoro: "That's too hard. They put extra in."

Naisoro could not be contacted for comment yesterday but another former SDL campaign director Jale Baba denied there had been any vote rigging.

"Every effort to win the last elections was conducted above board," Mr Baba said.

Mr Baba said Foster was a fugitive from his own country who was desperate and was capitalising on the political situation in Fiji to win him some favours.

He said it had been impossible to rig the election because of the presence of other political agents at the polls.

"With regards to that video, we are dealing with a master of deception," he said.

"It's all completely false and I'm mystified by the whole thing.

"What would motivate Navi to speak like that when it's obviously not true.

"He wasn't coerced, and he has nothing against the party - Navi that is.

"I wasn't even there to begin with and in the footage Foster's not even there.

"It's just his voice in the back, but that can be spliced."

"They may have been discussing how votes could be rigged but certainly not the last elections."

Foster said he had expected the personal attacks, saying it was "the only card they (the SDL) can play".

"The only card they can play is 'Don't believe Foster because he is a conman'," he said

"It's just diversionary tactics because they have nothing else.

"But the best it yet to come. The stuff that has been released so far is just the tip of the iceberg."

Foster said when the full story was told, ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase would "never show his face in public again".

"They will all spend more time in jail than I ever did," he said.

"Compared to them I should be Saint Peter. I am amazed at the hypocrisy of Qarase and the others who are questioning my integrity.

"All I am saying is just listen to the tapes. They are condemned by their own words.

"It's not my word against theirs. I am just the silly bugger carrying the video and microphone."

Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said the military was not involved in investigations concerning Foster, and as far as he knew, police were handling all inquiries into matters concerning the Australian.





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