The Pacific Islands Forum is “in consultation” with the government of Nauru over its forthcoming election but would need to be invited to send electoral monitors. This week the two former presidents, Marcus Stephen and Sprent Dabwido, accused the government of trying to manipulate the election. Among their grievances were new laws that require a candidate to pay $2,000 – a 20-fold increase in the entry fee – and to resign their public service job three months before polling day. This meant “the current government will be the only one who can afford to run an election campaign”, Dabwido told Guardian Australia.
The former presidents wrote to the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth Secretariat, requesting them to send international observers early to ensure the election was “free and fair”.
On Tuesday the forum’s secretary general, Dame Meg Taylor, acknowledged receipt of the letter, which she said “raised a number of important governance issues”, and said the forum was in consultation with the government of Nauru.
But no discussions about observer missions could have occurred before the passing of the Nauru’s Electoral Commission Act last week. “If an invitation is issued by the government of Nauru, the forum is ready to look at the issues raised with a team of suitably qualified regional electoral experts,” Taylor said.