Monday, July 07, 2008

Reforms to impact poll dates

Reforms to impact poll dates
Monday, July 07, 2008

THE adoption and implementation of electoral reforms will have an impact on the timetable for the general election promised by the regime to be held next, according to interim Attorney-General and Electoral Reforms Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the Electoral Commission would make the final decision on the election dates.

Earlier Commonwealth special representative Sir Paul Reeves said they were adhering to an election next March.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the political forum would help Sir Paul understand the views of political parties "including those who had won no seats in the last election".

"So Sir Paul means the election in March, 2009 could be subject to variation," he said.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the regime was keen on adopting recommendations of the National Council for Building a Better Fiji on electoral reforms.

"The forum through the Commonwealth and United Nations auspices is to facilitate an avenue for political parties to contribute to the electoral reforms," he said.

Sir Paul said he would prepare draft terms of reference to be considered by the Commonwealth Secretariat which is in continuous talks with the United Nations regarding Fiji's return to constitutional and democratic rule.

"I will also be consulting with the interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and what I'm hoping is that the draft which comes back from the Commonwealth Secretary General will then be endorsed by the regime and hopefully by all political leaders who will attend the Forum," Sir Paul said.

He stressed the independence of his mission in the formulation of the Terms of Reference.

"It's vital to say that the Commonwealth is independent and I'm not responsible to the NCBBF or indirectly responsible to the Interim Government," Sir Paul said.

"We're coming in here in our personal capacity and I believe our independence is a gift that we offer Fiji.

"I don't come in as someone who can provide the answers for the issues which the leaders will have to face. My job will be to control the process and help them find the space within which they can talk with each other."

The NCBBF claims there is positive response at the grassroots level to the idea of electoral reforms under the People's Charter.

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