The recent decree amendment for political parties (decree Number 11 released 16 February, 2013) defies the principles of universal suffrage and political equality which calls for standards that are professional, impartial and transparent in its preparation and administration throughout the full electoral cycle.
The basis of universal suffrage is to create space for all citizens to have an equal opportunity to participate in government as a fundamental right under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Citizens’ Constitutional Forum CEO Rev Akuila Yabaki stresses that the people must be accorded the liberty to choose who they want as their leaders and they must be allowed the opportunity to participate in government without fear of reprisal. “A key player, the media, must be allowed the freedom to report responsibly and for all to have freedoms of opinion and to assemble if we are indeed committed to returning Fiji to free and fair elections,” says Rev Yabaki.
CCF strongly opposes the amendments made to the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Decree which imposes unprecedented and unwarranted limitations to the rights of individuals and groups and further curtails the freedom of the press.
“Government’s actions are evident of the will of only a few to limit the freedom and rights of all of Fiji’s people to participate in the Government of their country,” says Rev Yabaki.
Rev Yabaki says the dictatorial approach of rule by decree is an oppressive measure of control imposed on all Fijians since the December 5th 2006 coup and this current decree is interpreted as the current government’s attempt to completely shut out former and aspiring political parties, trade unions and individuals, and pave a path for the continuation of the current military rule.
International confidence in the Bainimarama government’s promise of restoring constitutional democracy is also diminishing and will affect any assistance which may have been forthcoming for election preparations if immediate steps are not taken to remove all restrictions and apply the universal principles of human rights and good governance.
CCF urges the government to immediately repeal these decrees as such legislations stand against measures of electoral accountability and integrity.