Australia is sending a team of observers to Fiji to ensure next month’s general elections are free and fair. It will be the first election in Fiji since Frank Bainimarama seized power in a coup in 2006. The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia is co-leading a 14 member Multinational Observation Group with Indonesia, India and Papua New Guinea. She’s appointed former Defence and Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith to lead the Australian team, saying he has a “strong interest in supporting democracy internationally.” Mr Reith says it’s a very important moment for Fiji. “It’s a good opportunity for Fiji, and Australia is keen to be of assistance,” he said.Full Article: Fiji elections: Australia to co-lead Multinational Observation Group with Indonesia, India and PNG - Australia Network News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).
Articles about voting issues in the Republic of Fiji.
Fiji: Ballot numbering selected at random, Fiji Election Commission calls for early nomination submission | Islands Business
Fiji’s Electoral Commission chairman Chen Bunn Young said the ballot paper numbering was selected at random and denies it has any other implication aside from starting with a three-digit number to avoid any confusion for voters. His comments follow statements reported to have been made by former Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase who suggested it had religious implications leaning towards the Quran. “There was no thought put behind it as to what it would resemble or if it has any religious implication or connotation like it has been suggested. “We did not use no.1 because of the fact that number gives a false impression to voters that the person is the number one candidate. It was chosen at random for that reason and the reason that it was a three-digit number,” Young said. He further said in instances where a report or a complaint is made to the commission, they would have to verify it first to ascertain facts.Full Article: Numbering selected at random, Fiji Election Commission calls for early nomination submission - Fiji - News - Islands Business magazine.
The 2014 election will include a two week pre-polling period for voters in the remote parts of Fiji. Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem confirmed in a press conference in Suva today (Wednesday) that there could be a fortnight pre-polling period before September 17 to cater for voters who live in remote areas. “For instance you may seen that we have listed 174 venues for the eastern division and you have been hearing over past few days and months that there may be situation where pre polling could be done for remote locations. “We will go in advance of 17 September to conduct polling for voters in remote areas so it does not become an operational issue on September 17. “Pre polling is going to work in favour of those voters and assist the Fiji Elections Office in providing proper access for everybody.”Full Article: Fiji election official confirms polling will be more than one day - Fiji - News - Islands Business magazine.
Fiji’s Labour Party remains unconvinced about the Electoral Commission’s independence calling for their resignation if they are not able to carry out their duties independently. Labour Party president Lavinia Padarath said the commission appear “to be accepting objectionable provisions of the Electoral Decree that could undermine the conduct of free and fair elections. This is totally unacceptable,” Padarath said. “The commission should be left alone to act independently. If it is not allowed to do so, then the proper course for its members would be to resign because it is now a question of their integrity and credibility.”Full Article: Fiji Labour Party calls for Electoral commission resignation - Fiji - News - Islands Business magazine.
Approximately 85% of eligible voters are registered, which is an extremely impressive figure and represents the largest number of registered voters in Fiji’s history, says Electoral Commission chairman Chen Bunn Young. And the Elections Office is focusing on providing as many locations as possible around the country where Fijians can register to vote. Young said the Commission is determined to pick up the pace of opening registration centres in convenient locations across Fiji.Full Article: 85% eligible voters are registered: Fiji Electoral Commission chairman - Fiji - News - Islands Business magazine.
The office of the Electoral Commission will conduct a voter education drive to get people up to par with the elections process. Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed this after hearing concerns from villagers on Kadavu of their confusion on the voting process. The government delegation was made aware of these concerns during a tour by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to the island this week.Full Article: Voters raise concern - Fiji Times Online.
The chairman of Fiji’s Electoral Commission says he is confident the commission will be able to complete its work in time for elections promised for September. The government recently announced a seven member commission, headed by former president of the Fiji Law Society Chen Bunn Young, to oversee the elections. Young says the commission has a lot of work to do, including appointing an election supervisor, but it can be done.Full Article: Fiji's Electoral Commission chairman confident of meeting election deadline - Fiji - News - Islands Business magazine.
The 7 members of the Electoral Commission have been announced today after being appointed by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau. Those who will make up the 7 member Electoral Commission were revealed by the Attorney General and Minister for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum this afternoon. The Commission is made up of 7 prominent citizens from various walks of life headed by its Chair, leading legal practitioner Chen Bunn Young, who is a former President of the Fiji Law Society. The other members are academic Professor Vijay Naidu of USP, the tourism industry leader and marketing expert James Sowane, accountant and financial advisor Jenny Seeto, the filmmaker and media specialist Larry Thomas, electoral expert and priest Father David Arms and the educationalist and civil society leader Alisi Daurewa.Full Article: FijiVillage.com - Fiji's home on the world wide web.
Fiji: Academic says Fiji needs to set up an Electoral Commission as soon as possible | Islands Business
An Auckland University political scientist says the Fiji Government needs to set up an Electoral Commission as soon as possible, in preparation for the country’s approaching elections. A general election is promised for September but the members for the commission and an election supervisor are yet to be appointed. Stephen Ratuva says an Electoral Commission is needed soon. “Some names have been bandied around but nothing has been confirmed yet so they are still looking for people to be on the commission – that’s a very very important aspect of the electoral process – to have a commission in place and also the electoral regulations to be in place before the election. Because the electoral commission will basically look after the election process.”Full Article: Academic says Fiji needs to set up an Electoral Commission as soon as possible - New Zealand - News - Islands Business magazine.
The Fiji regime says everything is on track for elections by the end of September next year and an independent Electoral Commission will be in place in a matter of weeks. But its critics say the Bainimarama government is stalling on crucial elections’ machinery and jeapardising the chance of free and fair polls. Commonwealth Heads of Government have urged Fiji to rapidly set up an independent electoral commission to oversee the elections due by the end of September next year. The leader of the Fiji Labour Party and a former Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, says he’s never seen Fiji so ill-prepared for an election. “We don’t have an Electoral Commission. We don’t have a supervisor of elections. So much more could be done. We don’t even have electoral legislation in place at the moment. So all this lack of preparation points to doubts in the minds of the people whether we are going to have elections as scheduled for September next year.”Full Article: The Fiji regime scotches claims it’s stalling on key election preparations.
Fiji: Elections will go ahead despite political opposition, voter registration to start in NZ | Islands Business magazine
Despite acceptance from neighbours Australia and New Zealand, two of the four registered political parties in Fiji remain adamant they will not support the Constitution. Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) Senior Executive Tupeni Baba says the two countries have no say in domestic politics. In no way will Australia and New Zealand push us to elections. If we do get to elections when we decide, that the provisions are sufficiently flexible sufficiently fair and transparent then we will urge the people in Fiji to come with us. Question: What I can make out is you do not want elections to happen next year? Well not under the current provisions until the elections can be shown to be independently managed,” said Baba. The National Federation Party’s Raman Pratap Singh says Australia and New Zealand’s acceptance of the Constitution doesn’t matter.Full Article: Fiji Elections will go ahead despite political opposition, voter registration to start in NZ: AG - Fiji - News - Islands Business magazine.
As Fiji awaits the announcement of the new constitution, one of the major changes being anticipated is the electoral system that will be used in the country for the first time. The new constitution will also confirm the type of electoral system that will be adopted as we move towards the 2014 elections. In the draft constitution prepared by the government’s legal team, it was proposed that the election of members of parliament is by a multi-member open list system of proportional representation, under which each voter has one vote with each vote being of equal value.Full Article: FijiVillage.com - Fiji's home on the world wide web.
Fiji’s Electoral Commission will be set up once the new Constitution is in place. Once established, it will be responsible for registering voters and conducting free and fair elections. The Commission consists of a chairperson and four others – appointed by the President – on the advice of the Prime Minister. Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says their appointment will be made once the constitution has been adopted. “Because the Electoral Commission needs to be appointed under the Constitution and I would suspect that would be the first thing that needs to be done.”Full Article: Fiji Electoral Commission will be set up after Constitution is adopted - Fiji - News - Islands Business magazine.
While an electronic voter registration system has been applauded, there are fears the absence of a paper trail for voting may compromise the counting process. Professor Wadan Nasey, a Fijian academic at Australia’s James Cook University told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program that electronic voting may also be confusing for some voters. “A lot of our people are very, very uneducated and they’re not able to even use an ATM machine,” he said.
The electronic voting kit for the Electronic Voting Registration (EVR) will arrive into the country next week from Canada. Elections Office logistic team leader Major Isoa Loanakadavu confirmed CODE Corporation in Canada would supply the Biometric Voter Registration System (BVRS) under the Biometric Voter Registration agreement between the corporation and the government of Fiji. “The electronic voting kit will be arriving from Canada three weeks prior to the launch on July 3,” Major Loanakadavu said. Training on the use of the EVR will begin once the BVRS arrives. “Training will be conducted by representatives from CODE Corporation as part of the contract signed during the agreement,” Major Loanakadavu said. “They will conduct training to trainers. These trainers will then be deployed to centres to conduct training on the selected personnel (1118 personnel) prior to the actual deployment for the EVR.”Full Article: Electronic voting - Fiji Times Online.
The Electoral Commission is expected to undergo reforms in an effort to create an environment for free and fair elections in 2014.
Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said inefficiencies in the previous election process could not be blamed entirely but instead problems arose also from a lack in adherence to existing election rules. He added more clearer rules is needed for the election process to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
Fiji is expected to get electronic voting machines from India by next year.
The Indian High Commissioner to Fiji, Vinod Kumar said that as discussed previously, the first set of machines will be given as a gift to Fiji from the Indian government.
The Election Office is working to implement electronic voter registration in time for the 2014 general elections.
A Government statement said the office was exploring ways to facilitate it. “The work plan for the establishment of a system of electronic voter registration will be sent to overseas missions and multilateral organisations in Fiji for their assistance in implementing the work plan,” the statement said.
The Elections Office in Fiji is recommending the interim government hold one-day elections in 2014.
The Acting Supervisor for Elections, Soro Toutou has told FijiLive that as part of the voting system, individual voters will go to a designated polling station on polling day.