Monday, September 23, 2013

ELECTIONS IN FIJI UNDER THE PRESENT PROVISIONS WILL FAIL TO MEET INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS



SODELPA MEDIA RELEASE No.14


ELECTIONS IN FIJI UNDER THE PRESENT PROVISIONS WILL FAIL TO MEET INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS

According to an independent analysis by CCF (2013) An Analysis: 2013 Fiji Government Constitution, a general elections held under the current provisions of the 2013 Fiji Government Constitution cannot ensure fair and free elections.

First, the Transitional provisions of the Constitution[ 167: (3& 4)] gives outright power to the Regime’s Prime Minister that would have normally vested in the Constitutional Offices Commission to appoint the Chairperson and Members of the Electoral Commission. This Commission is responsible for overseeing the whole elections process.

Second, the Regime’sPrime Minister under the same Transitional provisions of the 2013 Fiji Government Constitution also appoints the Supervisor of Elections who works under the directive of the Electoral Commission.

Third, by virtue of the above appointments, it would be reasonable to expect that the much awaited Electoral Decree and Regulations which should define and provide directions for the work of the Electoral Commission and that of the Supervisor of Elections, will be determined by the Office of the Regime’s Prime Minister and presumably, his unelected AG.

Fourth, in the absence of the Leader of the Opposition, there will be no avenue for any Independent viewpoints expressed in all the matters relating to the elections. This would be serious especially if there is no requirement for a legal qualification and experience in the appointment of the Supervisor of Elections as is apparent in the recent advertisement for the post last week, in the local media.

Fifth, given the power vested in the Regime’s Prime Minister to make appointments also for any of the 10 Constitutional Offices during the transitional period leading up to the first seating of the New Parliament, all the critióal offices that are concerned more directly with Law and Order and, Security and Judicial matters, there is unlikely to be any public dissent allowed to be expressed openly by anybody on any impropriety in matters of law and order and security for those of our citizens and party members who legitimately express concern on any aspect of the election process or results.

Sixth, the above situation as pointed out by the CCF Analysis, is because “the Bill of Rights in the Constitution allows extra grounds for limitations in the case of elections. To ensure the orderly conduct of elections, the Fiji Government Constitution permits limitations on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly (as in the March 2013 Draft) as well as on labor relations, and the freedom of association and movement (as in the March, 2013 Draft)”(CCF, Sept2013: p.18)

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