The National Federation Party condemns in the strongest terms, the amendment to the electoral decree issued last week with regard to who is “ordinarily resident” in Fiji to qualify to stand for elections.
The amendment has ruled out two of the party’s leading candidates from standing in the upcoming general elections, Ms. Makereta Waqavonovono and Mr. Jone Vakalalabure.
These two highly qualified Fiji islanders would have been two of the best parliamentarians to have served our country.
This is the calibre of Fiji islanders that our country needs to take Fiji onto another level of service to the public.
Yet the interim administration sees it fit to disqualify them for being away acquiring higher professional skills that would have served our country greatly through parliament.
The process of amending the decree last week was just as bad as the substance of the amendment.
The amendment was from the office of the Attorney General whose most senior lawyer was representing the defendants in litigation before the high court.
Litigation brought by Ms. Waqavonovono asking the court for constitutional and human right redress with regard to her eligibility to stand for elections.
And as we all know, the AG is also general secretary of a rival political party and one of the defendants in that litigation as Minister responsible for the Elections.
It is a matter of grave concern that a defendant in live proceedings, who happens to be AG as well general secretary of a rival political party and Minister Responsible for Elections and the Electoral Decree, be allowed to change electoral rules by decree, weeks away from the elections.
It is also very disrespectful to the Court.
The party also expresses great concern that while the matter of the litigation was live before a Judge of the high court, the Chief Justice signed the amendment decree as Acting President of Fiji.
The National Federation Party is not taking this issue of disenfranchisement by decree lightly. The party will be exploring its options further.
After eight years, the people of Fiji deserve, at the very least – free and fair elections. One that is free of interventions by decree from one of the parties contesting those elections.
Kamal Iyer General Secretary