Coalition Government unless a Party gets 51% of the vote.

Allocation of seats in parliament

Fijian Elections Office
Wednesday, April 16, 2014

THE Electoral Commission will allocate seats in the parliament.

According to the Fijian Elections Office, this will be done following the submission of the national results tally by the Elections Supervisor to the commission.

Political parties and independent candidates must win at least 5 per cent of the total vote or they will not be eligible for a seat in parliament.

According to the Elections Office, if a political party clears the 5 per cent threshold, the number of seats it wins will be proportionate to the total number of votes it receives.

For example, if a party wins 60 per cent of the total vote, it will receive roughly 60 per cent of the seats in parliament.

According to the Elections Office, the process involves using a specific mathematical formula to calculate the exact number of seats to award a party based on the number of votes it receives.

Fiji’s formula is one that is used by at least 39 countries around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Israel, Netherlands, and Scotland and Spain

Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Retired) Voreqe Bainimarama tries to backtrack to avoid prosecution for campaigning without first registering his party.

PM: I Am The Only One

SOCIAL WELFARE MINISTER clarifies she has not applied, nor been nominated

Market vendors with the Prime Minister in Savusavu. Photo: Siteri Taleitaki

I am the only confirmed candidate in my proposed FijiFirst party at the moment, Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Retired) Voreqe Bainimarama,” told villagers of Nasinu, Vanua Levu, yesterday.
The villagers had asked Mr Bainimarama about the other members of his proposed party, after village headman, Ponipate Savunacagi, had also asked him if the Minister of Social of Welfare, Dr Jiko Luveni, was a confirmed candidate.
The Prime Minister also said Dr Jiko Luveni was used as an example after villagers from Ono-i-Lau had questioned him if members of his Government would be likely candidates for his proposed party.
Also confirming these clarifications was the Minister of Social Welfare herself. Dr Luveni said: “I have not submitted any application nor was nominated. We’ll just have to wait when nominations are done.”
Dr Luveni said she was willing to be a candidate for the proposed party and hopes to carry on the work.
“But I will definitely apply once the party comes into place,” the minister said.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister said members of his proposed party would be people who were willing to serve the people.
Mr Bainimarama is in Vanua Levu to collect 1000 signatures to help register his proposed FijiFirst Party. As per the Elections Decree, he needs to collect 5000 signatures – 2500 from the Central, 1500 from the West and 1000 from the Northern divisions – to register his proposed party.

The proposed National Youth Party says it will register on April 25.

The proposed National Youth Party says it will register on April 25. It’s interim leader, Nayagodamu Korovou said they’ve chosen April 25 because this is the time most youths will be in Suva for the Coke games.
He said they have gathered well over 5000 signatures from the different divisions.
“After the declaration of our assets and liabilities, we want to get out there and roll out our manifesto,” Mr Korovou said.
He said: “We believe youths need to be represented well in the new government. When we talk about the future we are talking about our youths. The problem with our youths now is lack of employment and we think it is a direct consequence of the policies made up by former governments.”
He said older political parties have used youth votes to their advantage in the past elections but mostly forget them when they win the elections.

If convicted, Frank could face up to 10 years in jail and a 27,000 US dollar fine.

Bainimarama probe outcome needs to be announced soon – academic

Updated at 4:31 am today

An academic on Fiji says the outcome of a police investigation against Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama needs to be announced soon because of its potential implications on the September elections.

The Fiji police have said they are investigating the regime leader for campaigning without having his party registered and displaying an emblem similar to the coat of arms on his campaign bus.

If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in jail and a 27,000 US dollar fine.

An Auckland University academic, Steven Ratuva, says depending on the outcome of the investigation, Rear Admiral Bainimarama may want to defend himself and the case could end up in court.

“It would need to be investigated pretty early, and whatever decision they’re going to make has to be quite early because it has implications in relation to the formation of a new party and also in relation to campaigns before the election.”

Mosese Tikoitoga

Can you give an assurance that there will be no further coups under this constitution?

Our job is to protect the constitution – coups or no coups – it is all enshrined in the constitution. It’s not the military’s wish to conduct a coup but it’s about ensuring we all abide by the same constitution. If people throw out the current constitution as current political parties are talking about – then they have thrown out the chance of avoiding coups. Everything that has been planned in the last seven years by the current government is to ensure we avoid any coups and this is enshrined in the constitution. That will be the answer to all the security questions people tend to ask.

Fiji Sun caught out stirring with “close party sources”…..

Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka is not the Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party.

Tabaiwalu is disappointed with an article in one of the dailies today which reported that Rabuka has been appointed SODELPA’s Deputy Leader.
SODELPA has also taken the matter to the Media Industry Development Authority.
When contacted, Mr Rabuka said he knew nothing about the deputy party leader appointment


Rabuka is Deputy Leader

The former prime minister will concentrate on securing votes in the Northern Division ROSI DOVIVERATA SUVA Fiji’s first coup leader, Sitiveni Rabuka has been appointed Deputy party leader for the Social Democratic Liberal Party. This was confirmed yesterday by close party sources after a briefing was held at the party headquarters to brief candidates who [...]

FLP, NFP, SODELPA pleased with regular updates


April 15, 2014 06:18:52 AM


Fiji Labour Party, the National Federation Party and SODELPA have expressed their appreciation to the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections for the regular updates ahead of the September 17 elections.

Last Friday’s meeting in Suva was the third to be held with the Fijians Elections Office.

FLP president Lavenia Padarath says they now could see a clearer path atlhough there are still alot to be done.

“I think this has been lacking – the dialogue with those in power,” Padarath said.

“We are beginning to see that they are making progress and it was also an opportunity for us to voice our concerns.

“Things are clearer now. At one time we thought we were running out of time given the September 17 date. There were alot of improvements in the meeting.”

NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad said they were satisfied with the updates and the meetings because they were also able to voice their concerns.

He said the party would also work within the timeline set out by the Fijian Elections Office (FEO).

SODELPA general secretary Pio Tabaiwalu says their executives will need to go through the timeline and work out how it would be feasible for the party.

“It’s been very helpful, but it’s one thing to plan on paper and its another to implement.

“So, we will be liasing very closely with the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Election in this regard.”

Meanwhile, the parties still insist the ballot paper needs changing.

Tabaiwalu suggested that the Electoral Commission should write very strongly to the government to change the ballot paper.

“We need a simpler system to make it easier for every voter.

“In 2006 we had a huge number of invalid votes. With a system like this, the numbers could be higher.”

In the 2006 election, there were 74,855 invalid ballot papers or nine per cent of the total vote largely because of different interpretation of the Electoral Act and lack of voter education on the proper way to cast votes.

Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem had said voters would be taught on the conduct of elections, how to cast their votes and restrictions that applies prior to, during and before election day through an extensive voter education exercise to be carried out by the Fijian Elections Office.


Mr Tabaiwalu said their youth council president has had a traumatic experience with the military

poll buzz

SODELPA youth leader cautioned about bad language on social media

Social Democratic Liberal Party Youth Council president, Peter Waqavonovono, has been advised not to use derogatory and foul language on social media.
Party general secretary, Pio Tabaiwalu said they’ve advised Mr Waqavonovono about the matter. “He has deleted that particular post on twitter.”
Mr Waqavonovono used inappropriate words which is not the opinion of the party, Mr Tabaiwalu said.
“In fact he was using his personal twitter account.”
Mr Tabaiwalu said their youth council president has had a traumatic experience with the military which is why he came out with such statements. On twitter, Mr Waqavonovono attacked Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and his proposed FijiFirst party.

SODELPA Candidates……Namosi chief Ratu Suliano Matanitobua and Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu

Top chiefs in SODELPA line-up

Ratu Suliano, Ratu Naiqama get the green light
Two high chiefs have been included in the Social Democratic Liberal Party’s line-up for the September 17 poll.
Namosi chief Ratu Suliano Matanitobua and Tui Cakau Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu are two of the party’s final candidates.
This was confirmed yesterday by the party’s vice-president, Silivenusi Waqausa.
“We are meeting with the candidates just to congratulate them for their effort,” Mr Waqausa said.
He said the party had already met with 20 of the final candidates and was supposed to have met with eleven others but only six turned up. Mr Waqausa said the party officials could not meet all the candidates at once because they were living at different locations in Fiji while some had commitments.
The briefing yesterday was a closed meeting.

Investigation but no action……

Police investigate

Nasik Swami
Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THE Fiji Police Force is investigating a complaint lodged by the former leader of opposition, Mick Beddoes, regarding the alleged wrongful use of Fiji’s Coat of Arms by Prime Minister Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama for his proposed political organisation bus.

Confirming this, police chief operations officer Rusiate Tudravu said the complaint was lodged at the Sabeto Police Station in Nadi on April 10.

“I can confirm that he has lodged a complaint. We have received a report and preliminary investigations are ongoing,” Mr Tudravu said.

In his complaint, Mr Beddoes claimed Rear Admiral Bainimarama and his associates allegedly breached the Coat of Arms of Fiji (Restriction of Use) Act — number 13 of 1972 and 14 of 1973 that prohibited the use of Coat of Arms.

Mr Beddoes also lodged a complaint last month against some individuals and organisations for allegedly breaching the provisions of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Decree Number Four of 2013.

The complaint was also lodged at the Sabeto Police Station against Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama, Women’s Minister Dr Jiko Luveni and the Fiji Sun newspaper.

He also lodged a complaint against Razor, CJ Patel, Fiji Village and Fiji Broadcasting Corporation for allegedly breaching the decree.

Mr Tudravu said they were also investigating this complaint.

Thanks to FDN…. The Land Bank gives total power to the PM to set rents and all conditions for leases, so he should be telling us and the landowners what decisions he’s made.

Land Bank is short on facts

April 14, 2014

Radio Regime has announced that $4.6 million has been paid to indigenous landowners who have deposited their land in the Frank Land Bank. We are not told who the lessee is (apparently only one) or how much land is involved. Nor are we told how long the leases run. Are they 99 year leases? How much rent is being paid? What are the provisions for re-assessing rent in line with inflation? The Land Bank gives total power to the PM to set rents and all conditions for leases, so he should be telling us and the landowners what decisions he’s made.

Radio Fiji 13 April 2014 Land Bank rakes in $4.6 m in lease money.

“If people throw out the current constitution then they have thrown out the chance of avoiding coups.

New constitution is the key, says Fiji’s new military chief

By Robert Matau

Fri 11 Apr 2014

SUVA, Fiji—- The new head of Fiji’s military Brigadier General Mosese Tikoitoga says the country’s new constitution should stay if there is to be no more coups in Fiji.

In an exclusive face-to-face interview with Islands Business magazine at the office of the Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces inside the Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Suva, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said the 2013 Constitution the government of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama passed in September 2013 holds the key to breaking the country’s coup cycle.

“Our job is to protect the constitution – coups or no coups these issues are enshrined in the constitution,” said Tikoitoga.

“If people throw out the current constitution as some political leaders are suggesting then they have thrown out the chance of avoiding coups.

“That will be the answer to the security questions people tend to ask.”

According to the new RFMF Commander, the military under his leadership will respect the result of the upcoming general elections.

He said this the RFMF would do because that is what is demanded of them under the 2013 Constitution.

“Our job is to defend the constitution and our role is provided for in the constitution.

“Whatever the result (of the elections), our role will be to support the government of the day and whatever government the people choose.

“It’s not our choice, and we base our choice on the will of the people.

“If the people have willed in a new government, it’s our responsibility as a law abiding institution to abide by the will of the people under this constitution.”

Brig-Gen Tikoitoga was appointed commander at the recommendation of his predecessor, Commodore now promoted Rear Admiral (retired) Bainimarama. Until his appointment, Tikoitoga was a colonel and held the position of Land Force Commander of the RFMF. He is a career soldier having joined as a private in 1981. He earned his commission as an officer seven years later and has attended staff colleges in Australia and India and holds double degrees in masters in management in defence studies and a master of philosophy in defence and strategic studies.

Bainimarama had announced late last year he would retire from the military to pursue a new career in politics. He has announced his proposed political party name and would reveal his manifesto before the country’s general elections scheduled on17 September, 2014.

Asked by Islands Business on whether he shared the political ambitions of his predecessor and that of two other military commanders before that, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga remained non-committal.

“The focus for me is to me to remain in the cocoon of the commander so I cannot have any other thoughts but that,” he said.

“I can’t focus elsewhere – it’s a huge task so I cannot be double minded – so my main focus which is the requirement of my appointment is to do the work of a commander.”

The Muani villager from the island of Kadavu said Fiji’s light infantry army is amongst ‘the most low tech but high skilled’ in the world and were able to adapt to any situation they were thrown in.

“You can opt for high technology to equip your troops but for that you will need specialised people and your focus becomes very limited.

“But a low tech one is more realistic for Fiji particularly in the work we are doing.

“That’s been one of the success stories of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces.

“We can go anywhere and adapt to any situation and do any job compared to high tech armies that can’t go everywhere because they are specialised and highly reliant on technology.”

Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said a case in point were Fijian soldiers currently serving with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force between the Syrian and Israeli borders in the Golan Heights.

“We have never tried skiing but now we have videos of our soldiers in proper skiing gear skiing down the hills doing patrols in the Golan Heights.

“That’s the adaptability of the Fijian soldiers put them anywhere in any situation with the right equipment and training, they learn quick and they can do the job and do it well.”

He said however the problem in Fiji was our troops were not appreciated enough at home compared to other parts of the world.

His message to his troops as they embarked on a new era under his command was to continue the good work they were doing.

“Soldiers adept to whatever leadership they are given and have gone through that over the years.
“They work under a different command in Fiji then go to the Middle East and work under someone else so they need to adept according to the wishes of the commander.

“Hence the soldiers make the changes according to the commander.”

On his thoughts about the legacy of his predecessor, Brig-Gen Tikoitoga said the welfare of soldiers was of utmost important to Rear Admiral (retired) Bainimarama.

“He knew that unless and until their family is financially secure you can’t expect them to perform to the best of their abilities because lives are at stake especially when they are in areas of operations.

“Better armies get better pay – for instance the Australian army is one of the highest paid armies in the world and they appreciate the work their people do.”

“So we are no different and Bainimarama believed that soldiers need to get their rightful dues for the type of work they do.

“We do subject our soldiers to a lot of operation risk and they need to be compensated.”

A Comment worth a Post

Section 185 of the 1997 Constitution no longer exists. Why was it removed? That section specifies that any changes to “entrenched legislation” ie Native Lands Act, Native Lands Trust Act, Fijians Affairs Act etc – must be approved by 9 of the 14 GCC (Bose Levu Vakaturaga) members of the Senate. The GCC members are nominated from the Provinces and represent the native landowners of Fiji. By removing Section 185, Kaiyum’s government has effectively rendered we, the native landowners, powerless over our own land. This power, under the 2013 Constitution now rests with the politicians in Parliament. All these changes were made without the consent of we the native landowners and as such totally unacceptable. Worse, the changes were made by people we do not know or recognise. It was not made by the leaders we elected nor were they made by our chiefs.

Legal redress for landowners questioned in Landbank deals. The Lands Ministry has no idea and will ask the Solicitor Generals Office?

Land Bank rakes in $4.6 m in lease money

08:33 TodayTaken from/By: FBC NewsReport by: Mika Loga

A total of four point six million dollars has been paid to indigenous landowners who have deposited their land in the Land Bank. This amount is the total figure cashed in by the lessee since the establishment of the Land Bank in 2011, with the latest payments made last month. Permanent Secretary for Lands Tevita Boseiwaqa says, the functions of the Land Bank established under the Land Use Decree of 2010 is somewhat the same as that of the i-Taukei Land Trust Board.“Legally speaking its also right for the Land Bank to be the custodian of native land where landowners have decided to deposit their land in the Land Bank.”The objective of the Land Bank is to see to the better utilization of indigenous land, lying idle. Tevita Boseiwaqa says, once landowners agree to deposit their land in the Land Bank, it means the government becomes the custodian or administrator of the particular native land.

He says, indigenous lands administered under the Land Use Decree are not charged survey fees, nor are lease premiums subjected to poundage costs”.“There’s increasing interest..I mentioned about the income that gone to native landowners because of the work done by the Land Bank in looking for investors to come and invest in this once idle land.

”Meanwhile, the i-Taukei Land Trust Board has questioned if the Land Use Decree contains provisions and procedures for legal redress by landowners who have voluntarily agreed to give their land for administration by the Land Bank.

The Lands Ministry is seeking legal advice from the Solicitor Generals Office on the issue – See more at:

Election criteria

Nasik Swami And Dawn Gibson
Saturday, April 12, 2014

THE September 17 general election will not go on unless the Fijian Elections Office registers and validates at least 50 candidates, said Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem during a media briefing in Suva yesterday.

Mr Saneem said nominations for the candidates had a comprehensive criteria under the Electoral Decree which the Elections Office would adhere to.

“Elections will be held if there are more than 50 valid nominations, so on the end of nomination on the 18th of August and maybe by the 22nd, if there are more than 50 candidates. Because after your nomination is accepted, you become a candidate,” he said.

“The nominations, in case you are wondering, will be determined in accordance with Section 23 (Electoral Decree) — it has a comprehensive criteria. We have to apply the criteria.”

Mr Saneem said apart from the candidates, registering voters remained an immediate priority for the Elections Office.

“Immediate priority in terms of voters is we need to encourage all of them to register and we need to get the correct addresses.

“We also will then have to assign them to the nearest polling stations and they can contact the Fijian Elections Office teams in May to sort that out for them,” he said.

Mr Saneem said it was necessary for registered voters to check that their names appear on the voter list.

“The provisional list of voters will come out towards the end of May or early June and that will give the voters first-hand result of where they’ll be voting.

“It is important for the voters to know that and then they come back to us to ask to change it and that will continue until the close of the voter list.”

He said once the voter list is out, the Elections Office will try to make it available to everyone.

“One of the ways in which the voter list can be made available is that if we are using schools as a venue, then we can hang the list in those venues, so curious school children are going to open the list to look for their parents.

“If they don’t find their parents’ name on the list in the school, they’ll go back and say “you’re not on the list”.

“So, our young will also play a very important part in our voter education exercise. So if you have children, please tell them today to watch out for this.”

Such punishment is surely reserved for extremely serious crimes, not for voters who are merely trying to remember the number of their preferred candidate, and who are voting for the first time in eight years.

An informed decision

Wadan Narsey
Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Electoral Decree is now out.

There are some elements in there (such as a ban on party sheds around polling stations) to ensure that the electoral process is fair.

However, there are some inherent elements which suggest that voting may turn out to be a nightmare for thousands of voters.

There will be only one national “constituency” to elect 50 parliamentarians.

There will probably be 50 candidates each from five parties (including Rear Admiral’s Bainimarama’s prospective party) suggesting a maximum of 250 party candidates.

The sample ballot paper at the end of the decree contemplates 280 candidates (280 squares) — though there may be more or less (including independents).

The decree therefore expects the voter to choose one square out of a massive ballot paper with 280 squares.

Each square will only have a number, in sequence, starting with 135 and (if there are 280 squares) going up to 414. Numbers will be randomly allocated to these candidates.

The problem is that the ballot paper will not have names, or photos, or party symbols which the voter can easily recognise, only the numbers.

In the polling booth, and also publicised all around the country before polling, will be some kind of information with all the candidates, with their numbers, names and photos (it is not clear whether party symbols will be allowed).

Each voter must note and remember the three-digit number of the candidate they want .

Then, in the polling booth, the voter will have to locate this three-digit number on the ballot paper, and circle, tick or cross the one square which contains their chosen number, out of these 280 squares.

The voting nightmare

There are hundreds of thousands of voters throughout Fiji, who may have great difficulty in remembering the numbers of their preferred candidates.

If they cannot remember, they will have to find their preferred candidate based on the information inside the polling booth, with all the names and photos of candidates, supposedly in less than two minutes.

Some political parties or candidates might quite sensibly think that they could help their supporters to take a small piece of paper, with the number of their preferred candidate written down. But Section 52 (2) of the Electoral Decree states: “It shall be unlawful for any person to bring into a polling station or polling venue any type of paper or any specimen or sample of a ballot paper or any card or instruction on how to vote.”

Section 52 (3) then warns voters: “If the Supervisor or presiding officer has reasonable suspicion that a voter is in breach of subsection (2), he or she may request the assistance of a police officer to search the voter, and it shall be lawful for a police officer to take such measures as necessary to conduct a search of the voter.”

Many decent law-abiding citizens of this country, exercising their right to make an informed choice in the election by taking a piece of paper into the polling booth to help them vote, would be shocked that, on suspicion, they could be body searched, like a common criminal.

Section 52(4) of the decree further warns, that if any such material is found on them, “Any person who contravenes this section commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or to both”.

Such punishment is surely reserved for extremely serious crimes, not for voters who are merely trying to remember the number of their preferred candidate, and who are voting for the first time in eight years.

Challenge for political parties and voters: how can they help their supporters to mark the right number in the polling booth?

Restrictions on

voter education

Section 115 (1) of the decree declares that: “Following the announcement of the date of the election, it shall be unlawful for any person, entity or organisation (including any person employed or engaged by any such person, entity or organisation) that receives any funding or assistance from a foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organisation or multilateral agency to engage in, participate in or conduct any campaign (including organising debates, public forum, meetings, interviews, panel discussions, or publishing any material) that is related to the election or any election issue or matter.

So organisations such as CFF, FWRM, WCC, and other NGOs are now banned from such educational activities (because the date of elections has been announced).

Universities are apparently allowed to have “inclusive public forums or panel discussions”.

But many NGOs also have a very legitimate interest, given their charters and constitutions, in conducting voter education campaigns in support of their legitimate interests. That education is not in the service of foreign interests. It does not work in any way against the national interest.

Why should they be banned from conducting such responsible and constructive work that assists good governance in our country?

After all, the Bainimarama Government had no difficulty in obtaining the assistance of electoral experts from Australia and NZ, even though they were funded by foreign governments.

Correct ban on use

of State resources

for campaigning but…

Section 113 of the decree prohibits the use of State resources for campaigning, stating (1) It shall be unlawful to use State authority, including law and tax enforcement authorities, to pressure or intimidate political opposition.

(2) It shall be unlawful for any public officer to conduct campaign activities.

The contradiction however is that under the 2013 Constitution, Rear Admiral Bainimarama and his other ministers are excluded from the definition of “public officers” and they will be allowed to remain in office until election day.

During this period when some ministers will inevitably be campaigning (despite promises five years ago that no minister would stand for elections), they will also have the freedom to use taxpayers’ resources to assist local communities, including potential voters, who may then be predisposed to vote for these ministers.

Other candidates will clearly therefore be at a disadvantage, despite claims by the Electoral Commission that they will ensure a “level playing field” for all candidates.

Identifying supporters of

Independent candidates

One of the principles of good governance at elections is that voters must be allowed to vote in secret, in the polling booth, without revealing who they are voting for.

Section 27 of the decree however states that the nomination of an independent candidate is not valid unless it is accompanied by the signatures of at least “1000 registered voters as supporters” and “the full names, residential addresses, occupation and voter numbers of the supporters”.

This surely creates the potential that “supporters” of individual independent candidates will be publicly identified, with their addresses.

This totally negates the principle of the “secrecy of the ballot box”.

Other political parties are thereby being given information to target known supporters of the Independents.

This is surely totally unfair to Independents, for whom this is yet another reason not to stand as an Independent. I will discuss this in my next article.

* The views expressed in this article are the views of the writer, not of The Fiji Times. They, views, are published to encourage political debate and discussion as Fiji prepares for elections.