Fiji Candidate Disqualified To Contest Elections, Claim Discrimination

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Vakalalabure: Last minute change to decree denying ‘his political right’

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, August 5, 2014 ) – Jone Vakalalabure says he has been denied his political right as a Fiji citizen under the 2013 Constitution following his disqualification to contest the 2014 Elections.

Vakalalabure who today confirmed his stepping down as a candidate for the National Federation Party (NFP) along with former Legal Aid Director Makereta Waqavonovono says he has been discriminated because of the recent change to the Electoral Decree.

The amendment to the decree changed last Thursday required that persons must be living in the country for at least 18 months immediately before being nominated, effectively ruling out the duo because they had been away for studies last year.

Vakalalabure was away in Australia for a year to pursue higher professional studies after which he returned to Fiji in mid-2013.

"It has always been my desire to use my skills and knowledge to contribute to the development of Fiji and our people," Vakalalabure said.

To contest the election, he also had to make personal sacrifices, one of which was to relocate his five-year-old son from attending kindergarten in Suva to attend a village kindergarten under his mother’s guardianship in order to campaign around Fiji.

"Making the transition back into village life for my son was a huge challenge for him and we have had to work with him through this adjustment period only to have to now redo these arrangements," Vakalalabure said.

"Despite this I owe my heartfelt gratitude to voters in Cakaudrove, particularly in Natewa, Tunuloa, Rabi, Taveuni, Kioa and the greater Savusavu area for opening their doors to me and their support and encouragement while I was campaigning out there." He also encouraged supporters to continue to support NFP saying their policies is guaranteed to alleviate poverty and hardship and determine a brighter future for them and the country.

"The experience while daunting has not left me discouraged and this minor obstacle has made me more determined to return in the next four years to contest the next general election." Vakalalabure further says he will continue campaigning for the NFP and will decide on his plans going forward after the September 17 election.

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