November 30, 2016
MEDIA RELEASE: REMOVE ELECTION PORTFOLIO FROM AG AND EXAMINE ELECTIONS SUPERVISOR
The President of the National Federation Party, Roko Tupou Draunidalo today welcomed the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal in favour of the Electoral Commission against the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem.
The judgment by the Appeals Court confirmed that the Supervisor must comply with all decisions and directions given to him concerning the performance of his functions.
The judgment concluded saying the time limits of 3 days after objections to proceed with the candidate draw ends at midnight on the 3rd day and not at 4pm as argued by the Supervisor who had proceeded to conducted the draw for the 2014 General Election, without hearing the result of the Commissions deliberations.
Ms Draunidalo said that the judgment validates the concerns of the National Federation Party and other opposition parties during the time of the ballot draw where the Supervisor of Elections unilaterally acted with only advice from the Solicitor-General’s Office, to proceed with the draw at 4pm that day.
“That decision of the Supervisor with legal advice from the SG’s Office, allowed the entry of Fiji First Minister Parveen Bala to be a candidate for Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s party – and at the same time removed the constitutional right of Steven Singh of the Fiji Labour Party to be a candidate.”
“It was an unprecedented move by any Supervisor of Elections in the history of Fiji’s governance, who out-rightly defied the Electoral Commission and rushed into having a ballot draw which favoured the political party of the ruling Government.”
“At this point, I also emphasise my earlier call to the Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, to remove the General Secretary of his Fiji First Party, the Attorney-General Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, as Minister for Elections.”
“The fact that the Minister for Elections and the General Secretary of Fiji First was publicly commenting on the case, supporting the decision of the Supervisor and even suggesting that the Electoral Commission take legal advice from his own chief legal advisor, the Solicitor-General, was extraordinary and totally inappropriate.”
“The Prime Minister should retake the responsibility of elections and ensure that that responsibility is for merely administrative purposes like that of all previous Prime Minister’s. He must ensure that this responsibility is not used to influence nor control the independence of the Fiji Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office.”
“I again state that it appears that the SOE Mohammed Saneem has not displayed the competence, neutrality, non partisanship and maturity to hold the all important constitutional role he has been given.”
“The people of Fiji deserve the highest ethical and professional standards from its election officials leading to the 2018 General Election.”
Roko Tupou Draunidalo