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National Council for Building a Better Fiji wants new system

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 25, 2008) – The current electoral and voting system is undemocratic, the National Council for Building a Better Fiji said yesterday.

In a communiqué issued after its fourth meeting, the NCBBF said the road to Fiji's parliamentary democracy was impeded by the undemocratic nature of the electoral system.

[PIR editor’s note: The National Council for Building a Better Fiji is a body set up to deliver a "People’s Charter" – the idea of Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama – based on hearings in communities across Fiji. The charter, meant as a companion to the country’s existing charter, has been controversial because of its association with Bainimarama’s 2006 coup. ]

The communiqué said Fiji's electoral system violated the United Nations Universal Declaration on Human Rights because it failed to provide a one vote one value concept.

"The disproportion in representation between voters in rural and urban areas and within Fijian provincial and communal constituencies is contrary to the principle of equal number of votes and of one person, one vote one value," it said.

Women and minorities who were in politics were disadvantaged under the same voting system, the communiqué said.

It said women and minorities could have greater participation because this system forces parties to consider the make-up of the electorate as a whole when selecting candidates.

The electoral system hindered the attainment of a national identity for the people of Fiji, it said, adding voting above the line and below the line was not fully understood.

"A high proportion of voters up to 12 per cent have their votes disallowed," it said.

An election under the current system would be flawed because it would empower a government under undemocratic rules, the communiqué said.

"Apprehension was expressed that any government elected in this way would be denied legitimacy and credibility leading to further instability."

The right of the majority to decide public policy should be balanced by the right of the minority to be protected against bias, the communiqué said.

Future governments would be barred from systematically and willfully pursuing the interests of the few particularly the elected government supporters," it said.

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