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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”