Thursday, August 07, 2008

All eyes on elections

All eyes on elections
VERENAISI RAICOLAThursday, August 07, 2008

The Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma hopes Fiji will move towards elections in March 2009 to restore parliamentary democracy.
Fiji has been suspended from the councils of the Commonwealth since December 2006 following a military overthrow of the government.
Mr Sharma said parliaments and parliamentarians were at the heart of the democratic process.
He committed the Commonwealth Secretariat to continuing to work in partnership with the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association to strengthen Parliament in Commonwealth member states. "When parliament works by providing the Opposition with a voice and a fair chance to influence the policies and events of the day, then the democratic process works," he said.
Mr Sharma says when parliaments do not work, then the democratic process does not work, and often conflict is not far away.
"So it is imperative that we help to create strong and enduring democratic institutions," he said.
He said visionary leaders played a vital role, but countries should stress the importance of institutions.
"These institutions have to be nurtured, supported and strengthened in the right spirit," said the Secretary-General while addressing the CPA's 54th Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Tuesday.
Mr Sharma commented on recent peaceful changes in governments following parliamentary elections, saying that the transfer of power through a democratic process was one of the cornerstones of democracy and good governance.
He said the change of governments in Sierra Leone and Belize through elections were recent examples.
"This is the type of model we need to emulate and support everywhere, through developing parliamentary procedures, respecting constitutional governance and promoting a culture of participation," Mr Sharma said.
"This should be firmly supported by institutions such as election commissions respected for their integrity, transparency and even-handedness by the people, who are sovereign."

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