2018 GENERAL ELECTION MUST BE FREE, FAIR AND CREDIBLE

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum is calling upon the Prime Minister and Attorney General who is also the Minister for Elections to ensure that the 2018 General Election is free, fair and credible. A free, fair and credible general election also entails freedom of expression by political parties; politicians and that political parties must be allowed to move freely within the country to campaign for the general elections; and proportionate or sufficient access to the media in order to put forward their political views.

CCF is also urging media organizations to provide proportionate space for candidates and political parties to share their views or campaign. In addition, CCF wishes to remind political parties to campaign responsibly and not to create fear, confusion, and unrealistic promises to voters. Also, candidates and political parties competing in the general election must respect the rights and freedom of speech of others with opposing views.

Although the Multinational Observers Group Report stated the 2014 Election was credible, how free and fair remains a question among us today. This was evident in how the electoral process was smeared with speculations; bias media coverage towards some parties; and political parties alleging of rigging and tampering of ballot boxes.

Meanwhile, the development made so far by the Fiji Elections Office such as the early identification of pre- polling venues and polling venues; issuing of new voter cards with ‘security features’, and other developments are positive and promising. However with the huge number of pre-polling venues, CCF believes that ballot boxes must have security features to avoid tampering and rigging for instances; during transportation and must be kept under proper surveillance. Voter screens now replacing polling booths in the amended 2014 Electoral Act must be interpreted in the Act for clarity due to the dissimilar of some of its features and characteristics.

In addition, CCF feels that the Fiji Elections Office is running against time to convene a meeting with CSOs who were involved with voter awareness in previous elections. This exercise of voter awareness must be undertaken now and FEO cannot do this work alone, to achieve maximum reach. Many electoral related questions, especially on ‘how to vote’ were raised by the public during CCF’s Constitutional awareness program currently being conducted in various places around the country. Section 115 of 2014 Electoral Act prohibits organizations that receive donor funding to organize meetings, carry out awareness or public discussion on election after the announcement of the General Elections. In 2014, NGOs such as CCF was only allowed to conduct voter awareness within three months prior to election date.

With the Prime Minister’s role as COP23 chair, and Honourable Minister for Agriculture, Rural & Maritime Development & National Disaster Management, as champion for climate change; Fiji’s visibility in the International arena is now setting high standards.. It is therefore prudent for Fiji to adhere as well to international Parliamentary election standards as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights (UDHR) , Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and other international principles such as the Inter- Parliamentary Council – Declaration on Criteria for Free and Fair Elections, International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights(ICESCR) to ensure the much anticipated 2018 General Election is free, fair and credible.

For further information please contact CCF Communications Officer Mr. Gregory Ravoi via media1@ccf.org.fj or call 330 8379.

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