Voter confidence in the Bainimarama government’s promise of a free and fair election in Fiji may suffer if we fail to appoint an Independent Supervisor of Elections.
As it stands, the Office of the Attorney General has a tight leash on the Elections Office and current and prospective political parties through their continuous interventionist decrees. It is signaling to the public that the agenda of the government supersedes the people in a process where citizens are expected to not only participate in but to also choose their government through free and fair elections.
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum echoes “Elections Integrity” Principles that the Elections Office needs to be independent of any other institution of government to avoid any interference and conflict of interest. Therefore the body that administers the electoral process including the setting of standards for the electoral administrators and elections officers, political parties and candidates, lobbyists, observers and the media must be impartial and neutral and framed on legislation and constitutional soundness.
CCF urges the Bainimarama government to heed the call from the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon on the need for Fiji to restore legitimate government. Hence, the appointment of an Independent Supervisor of Elections is critical to the achievement of legitimate government in Fiji.
CCF CEO Rev Akuila Yabaki stresses that currently the State is behaving outside good practice and risks putting Fiji through another constitutional crisis, especially if people lose faith and trust taking no ownership of the process. The decision to set aside the people’s draft in favor of a State-drafted document has seriously eroded peoples will to participate in any further democratization process. Shifting milestones only adds to further erosion in confidence in the process.
The current drafters of the constitution need to provide the framework for this independence, impartiality and neutrality and focus on setting up a legal framework for Electoral Integrity that is accountable, transparent and quite importantly that the elections are indeed free and fair.