Fiji's Electoral Commission removes '666' from ballot papers

Fiji's Electoral Commission removes '666' from ballot papers

Fiji's Electoral Commission has decided the number '666' will not be used on ballot papers to identify any candidates in this year's general election.

The Electoral Commission made the decision at a meeting last week, following consultation with all the registered political parties in Fiji.

In a short statement chairman Suresh Chandra said the commission had "unanimously approved that the number 666 be removed from the ballot paper for the 2018 General Election".

No reason was given for the move by the Electoral Commission, but few in Fiji are in any doubt it has to do with the number's biblical connection and satanic connotations.

"That number is associated with the antichrist in the Christian belief," the leader of the newly-formed Unity Fiji Party, Savanaca Narube said.

Mr Narube will be contesting his first general election when it is held later this year and supports the decision to remove 666 from the ballot paper.

"I think we just look at the sensitivity of that number in the country and the make-up of Fiji, and if you are a Christian candidate then if you have allocated that 666 I think that would be quite untenable," Mr Narube said.

In the New Testament's Book of Revelation, 666 is referred to as "the number of the beast".

In modern popular culture, in movies, books and music, it has come to be associated with Satan and evil.

In the early 1980s Rock Band Iron Maiden had a song and album called The Number of the Beast and were subject to heavy criticism from religious groups for being a Satanic group.

Iron Maiden songwriter Steve Harris labelled the comments as "mad".

Mr Narube said having 666 on the ballot paper would be a significant handicap.

Under Fiji's electoral system a single electorate covers the entire country and there is only one ballot paper for all the candidates vying for a seat in parliament.

Candidates will be identified by a number only, not by name, image or even a party logo.

Mr Narube said there should be more information on the ballot so people can accurately identify their preferred candidate.

"We in [the] opposition parties, we have made submission to the Electoral Commission that at least they allow some sort of indicator that will help a voter make his choice ... some symbols, some picture, the Electoral Commission has refused."

The ABC has requested an interview with the Electoral Commission, through the Fijian Elections Office.

ABC