Fiji Opposition Coalition Criticize Electoral Commission Decision To Not Address All Observer Recommendation

Commission must be pro-active not passive in delivering free and fair elections

By Nasik Swami

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, June 29, 2017) – The coalition of five political parties demanding changes to the electoral laws have rejected the decision by the Fijian Electoral Commission to action 19 of the 38 recommendations made to it by the Multinational Observer Group (MOG) after the 2014 General Election.

After a meeting yesterday, the leaders of the National Federation Party, Social Democratic Liberal Party, Fiji Labour Party, Fiji United Freedom Party and the People's Democratic Party, claimed the actions taken by the commission were "passive in nature".

On Tuesday, commission chairman Suresh Chandra informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights that his office had accepted and actioned 19, rejected 10 and did not have jurisdiction over nine of the MOG recommendations.

"We note that commission chairman Suresh Chandra made no reference to the important recommendations made by the Electoral Commission itself in its 2014 report," a statement from the coalition signed by FLP leader, Mahendra Chaudhry and FUFP leader, Jagath Karunaratne read.

The coalition said it did not accept Mr Chandra's explanation that the commission could not do anything about implementing those recommendations which required making changes to the law.

"Time and again, we have emphasised to the commission that it has a constitutional responsibility under Section 75 of the Constitution to deliver free and fair elections," the coalition said.

"This responsibility implies, and indeed, requires it to make recommendations to the Government to make changes to electoral laws which would enhance the transparency and integrity of the election."

The coalition said the conduct of free and fair election presumes a pro-active, not a passive commission.

Yesterday, Mr Chandra labelled the rejection by the political parties as "it's all politics".

"We have considered very thoroughly all the 38 recommendations of the Multinational Observer Group (MOG) of which recommendations were part of the political parties submissions," he said.

Mr Chandra said the political parties wanted the same changes as it was reviewed by the MOG.

"We have considered all of that, so their submission was to strengthen the MOG which we have considered, we have considered the 2014 previous Electoral Commission's recommendations.

"So considering all those three recommendations, we have come up with the 19 acceptable ones out of the 38.

"Out of that, 10 of them we cannot recommend because they require changes to the law and nine of them, we left it to the Standing Committee to deal with that."

Fiji Times Online.
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