Fiji’s Electoral Decree amendment fury

From FIJI TIMES

News
Fri 08 Aug 2014

SUVA, Fiji — Political parties in Fiji have come out strongly against the recent amendment made to the Electoral Decree 2014.

The amendment has so far resulted in the National Federation Party (NFP) having to disqualify three of its candidates from contesting the September 17 election.

These candidates are academic Jone Vakalalabure, lawyer Makereta Waqavonovono and former national rugby rep Seru Rabeni.

Electoral Commission chair Chen Bunn Young said he had not received any formal complaint from any party.

The amendment made last week introduced a new Section 23(5) of the Electoral Decree which states: “For the purposes of subsection (4) (c), a person shall only qualify to be ordinarily resident in Fiji for at least two years immediately before being nominated, if that person has been present and living in Fiji for an aggregate period of not less than 18 months out of the two years immediately before being nominated.”

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said they lost three talented and learned individuals “ho had a lot to offer Fiji and could have served as ministers in any government”.

He described the amendment as “shameful” and said it “gives FijiFirst an unfair advantage over other political parties in the country”.

Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry resounded Prof Biman’s comments, saying the decision was “downright preposterous””

“The two-year residency requirement for voter registration was unilaterally removed by the regime. Yet now, they see it fit to bring back the qualification in regard to candidates only,” Chaudhry said.

“You can’t change the rules, the process has begun, the Electoral Commission is in place and the process has begun. So, this is wrong, it’s very clear that the process has no integrity if you can keep changing the rules.”

Peoples’ Democratic Party general secretary Aman Singh told The Fiji Times that PDP looked down on the fact that there was a lack of consultation prior to making the amendment.

“The amendment once again indicates how this regime puts laws without any consultation or briefing and we the people are always at the receiving end.

“Just like every other decree that has just come out, this had no proper consultation with stakeholders or anything that makes sense.

“We continue to receive decrees even a couple of weeks away from elections, what the regime does is simply extend the goal posts.”

Social Democratic Liberal Party spokesperson Anasa Vocea voiced SODELPA’s opinion, many of which sounded similar to those of the other parties.

“We find that extremely discriminatory because in the same provision, they exempt civil servants who have been working overseas in that period. If you’re a civil servant working overseas, then you’re exempted from that provision.

“So why the discrimination? We find it totally unfair.”

One Fiji Party leader Filimone Vosarogo last night confirmed he would comment on the matter today, while attempts to get comments from FijiFirst were unsuccessful.

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