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.”
The Sodelpa Party’s Pio Tabaiwalu says with a whole new voting system ahead, time is particularly short. He feels the regime is stalling because Commodore Frank Bainimarama wants to leave his run for election as late as possible. The regime leader announced earlier this year he would stand for election and probably win. “I mean it’s to their advantage to be in government right up to the eve of the election so that they can of course utilise government machinery, government funds, government media, government PR, public relations for their political aims. And I think they should declare early, form a party and get out of government.”
But the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says overseas electoral experts have submitted their reports, applications have closed for the position of Supervisor of Elections and the Electoral Commission will be announced in a matter of weeks. He has also scotched claims delaying tactics are being used to retain control in the run up to the polls.