Stop clowning around
The Supervisor of Elections should stop clowning around over a breach of electoral law by the ruling Fiji First Party by describing as “madness and theatrics”, media reports based on statements from political parties highlighting the breach.
Recent comments made by the SOE and in particular, snide commentary citing madness and theatrics lend more credibility to public perception about his sheer lack impartiality as a Regulator overseeing the upcoming elections.
It is highly irregular for the Supervisor of Elections or any Regulator for that matter to willfully blur the lines on what is acceptable political commentary for a Regulator like himself. In fact there are NO allowances for political commentary, and his role as per section 6 of the Electoral Act is clear.
In particular he must ensure that the low voter turnout trends from 2014 and 2018 elections do not worsen this time around, as NFP has continued to caution.
Calling Opposition Parties as mad and dramatic while spruiking his words with juvenile jibes about print media placement of NFP party statements, surely are unworthy of his high office.
Mr Mohammed Saneem must always know that his actions require him to show absolute impartiality and independence.
This is especially critical when the Supervisor makes public statements on serious matters, particularly complaints against political parties and individuals who may be stakeholders in the elections.
While berating The Fiji Times and Communications Fiji Ltd (CFL) for their reporting of statements by political parties on the placement of a extremely large banner on the wall of Suva City Council carpark and curio handicraft centre, the SOE claimed that the NFP also wanted him to refer Fiji First to FICAC (Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption) when the Party had already done so.
Mr Saneem is horrendously wrong. The NFP has not at any time and in any of its statements called for the Supervisor of Elections to refer the matter to FICAC.
The SOE is completely aware of NFP’s complaint to the FICAC Commissioner on 12th October. Nowhere in the complaint have we suggested that Mr Saneem should act or has failed to act.
The same applies to two media statements on the issue, firstly highlighting the complaint, and secondly urging FICAC to investigate possible collusion between the Fiji First and the Suva City Council, particularly the role of the SCC Properties Manager in the facilitation of this illegal act.
NFP’s Complaint to FICAC Commissioner clearly stated that “FICAC clearly knew it “can act on its own accord. It does not need to wait for a report from the Supervisor of Elections”.
So where and how Mr Saneem has perceived that the NFP also wanted him to refer the matter to FICAC is beyond belief.
The NFP is not, and has never displayed madness or theatrics.
The Supervisor is grossly unqualified to make the first pronouncement, and to detail our use of rights and freedoms as political parties enshrined by law as "theatrical", is best answered to by the Supervisor, who is himself an officer of the court.
Leba Seni Nabou General Secretary