FIJI ELECTIONS CHIEF HAS HAD ENOUGH

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 8) – Fiji Supervisor of Elections Semesa Karavaki plans to resign because of a desire to move on to bigger challenges.

Speaking yesterday from his office, Mr. Karavaki said he needs to proceed to a more challenging career because the Elections Office had come to a standstill with the completion of the 2006 General Election.

I have achieved something and that was the elections and now there are no other challenges over here for me to stay on, he said.

With the elections over, the office has slowed down compared to the period of the elections. It will be another quiet period that will be experienced again by electoral administrators.

Mr. Karavaki said the situation provided no motivation for him to stay on as the head of the constitutional office.

"I think we can probably move on to bigger challenges. I am weighing my options on whether to go back to practice," the lawyer said.

He admitted the salary attached to the post was too low for the responsibility of the job.

"The salary, I believe, is a misunderstanding of the value of the post itself with the amount of work actually carried out to conduct or prepare for a national election," he said.

Now that the office is responsible for the municipal elections, that has added more work on the office but the wages have not changed.

According to an Islands Business magazine report, under the public services pay structure, Mr. Karavaki was on LG01, at the middle salary level of State lawyers.

But as Supervisor of Elections, he was the only middle level State lawyer who managed between 200 to 2,000 people, and accounted for a FJ$30 million [US$17.3 million] budget, the bulk of which had to be spent in the space of a fortnight.

The four civil servants, or Divisional Commissioners who work under him as returning officers, earned far more than he did.

Mr. Karavaki said if the office was provided resources to carry out responsibilities, then it could continue with preparation work gearing up towards an election.

Former Supervisor Walter Rigamoto, who Mr. Karavaki replaced, quit after the 2001 election to become the country’s Ombudsman.

June 8, 2006

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com

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