Fiji Supervisor of Elections: Office Is Independent

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Saneem to "ensure elections are done in a free and fair manner"

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, March 31, 2014) – Fiji’s newly appointed Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem has assured the public that the Elections Office is independent and will uphold its core values.

"I’m honoured and proud to have been chosen as the Supervisor of Election. I make a sworn commitment to the Fijian people that I will discharge my duty as supervisor with complete integrity, transparency and independence," Saneem said.

"As supervisor I come under the direction and guidance of the Electoral Commission whom I would like to assure my full support.

"The Fijian Elections Office has a clear mission statement. The mission is to conduct free and fair election. In every election we will uphold the fundamental principle that every Fijian has one vote and every vote is of equal value, it is our duty that all Fijians over the age of 18 have the opportunity to exercise that constitutional right to vote."

He said his immediate task would be to see that the mechanics of the Elections Office are put in place to ensure the 2014 Elections are carried out as planned.

"A lot of processes have been set up and are in place," Saneem said.

"The only thing now is with the Electoral Decree and with the support of the commissioners is to move it forward and ensure elections are done in a free and fair manner."

Saneem’s appointment was announced last Friday by Elections Minister and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. He was recommended to the post by technical consultants who were engaged to the Fijian Elections Office after the Fijian Government deemed that none of the 13 applicants met the criteria.

[PIR editor’s note: There were numerous reports questioning Saneem’s qualifications and fitness for the job. "Chief Executive of the Citizen's Constitutional Forum, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says the election supervisor is meant to be independent and he questions Mr Saneem's suitability for the post." Also, "Fiji's Labour Party has questioned the credibility of the appointment of Mohammed Saneem as Supervisor of Elections saying he does not meet the set criteria."]

Meanwhile, there are also plans by the Elections Office for an extensive voter education exercise.

Saneem also made known that the Electronic Voter Registration for overseas voters will resume in the second week of May.

"We will be launching the next phase of the voter registration in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), London, Germany, West coast of America, New York and Vancouver," he said.

Details of the voter registration will be released soon.

Voter registration had been carried out in New Zealand and Australia where 1,222 Fijians were registered - of which 558 were registered in New Zealand late last year and 664 in Australia last month.

In a meet the press session with the media today, Electoral Commission chairperson Chen Bunn Young expressed confidence in Saneem’s ability to serve the office and ensure the provisions set out in the Electoral Decree are observed.

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