Fiji election breaches should be denounced by Australia and New Zealand
|Bainimarama accused of stealing SODELPA colours|
Caught breaching its own decree, trying to steal another party’s name, another’s party colours – what next? Predictably, the regime is turning a deaf ear to criticisms and blithely going ahead as though it’s business as usual. But a series of breaches have now exposed the regime’s lack of transparency and ongoing unfair treatment of political parties and it should be investigated and eliminated from the election. Australia and New Zealand and the international organisations who’ve supported the regime’s elections plans all need to acknowledge the sham and put pressure on the Suva administration to right the wrongs, if they are to retain any credibility. The breaches, committed by both Frank Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, are major and can’t be ignored. There is irrefutable evidence Khaiyum registered himself the name Bainimarama is using for the elections, Fiji First, in November 2009, then re-registered it again in January this year. Bainimarama has meanwhile been campaigning ‘officially’ for more than a fortnight, despite not having registered his party, and has been allowed to collect the required 5,000 signatures as he goes. Khaiyum’s Political Parties Decree says no individual or organisation is allowed to campaign or act as a party until it has been registered. Fiji police are supposedly investigating four complaints already laid against Bainimarama, including exerting influence on election officials and naming a candidate before he had even registered, but there has been no outcome, let alone comment. Neither has the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, voiced or noted any concern about the breaches or complaints. That is to be expected. Saneem, the regime’s former Permanent Secretary for Justice, was appointed Supervisor amid controversy by Khaiyum. The United Front for a Democracy has challenged the appointment saying Saneem wasn’t recommended by New Zealand, Australia or ‘private experts’ as claimed by Khaiyum after Australian Laurie McGrath turned down the role. UFDF, who asks what happened to the other 10 candidates who applied, says Saneem was too young to have even voted in 2006. Fiji media are today reporting Bainimarama has delayed registering his party but is still travelling the country collecting votes and he and Dr Jiko Luveni are due to open a womens resource centre in Bua on Friday. School principals have meanwhile been warned by the permanent secretary for the Public Service Commission, Parmesh Chand, not to engage in any political campaign or activity. Chand says principals cannot be seen to be using their influence as it is prohibited by the Political Parties Decree, the very same decree that is being breached left right and centre by the regime.