Posts tagged Fiji Elections

PNG COMMITS $20.1 MILLION TOWARD 2014 ELECTION

Papua New Guinea has officially committed $20.1 million toward preparations for the 2014 General Election after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Fijian Government today.

A further $20 million will be discussed and dispatched in 2015.

The Permanent Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Office, Pio Tikoduadua, who signed the agreement on behalf of the Fijian Government, said the assistance was provided in the true Melanesian spirit and it would contribute toward helping Fiji make the transition to Parliamentary democracy through the country’s first truly democratic election.

“On behalf of people and Government of Fiji we thank you and please convey our gratitude to your Prime Minister and the people for this very generous assistance in helping Fiji cross that line,” he said.

The Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, also thanked the PNG government for following through on its commitment made last year during Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s visit to the country.

The Attorney-General said that thanks to careful planning the Fijian Elections Office has already produced a detailed break-down of how all international assistance – including PNG’s contribution – will be utilised.

“Working with our international elections experts, we’ve taken the time to do things the right way so that we avoid donor overlap and ensure that there is transparency,” he said.

Papua New Guinea has commended the work carried out by the Fijian Elections Office.

This was the assessment of PNG Government’s chief secretary, Sir Manasupe Zurenuoc who is in Fiji to work out the details for rolling out the assistance.

“I am very satisfied with the information provided by Fijian officials and can report back to my Government with satisfaction that the Fijians have told us exactly how they are going to spend the money”, Mr Zurenuoc said.

The first payment of $6 million will be made at the end of this month to the Elections Office.

Fijian Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Discusses Location of New Parliament

DETAILS ANNOUNCED OF VOTER REGISTRATION IN AUSTRALIA

The Fijian Elections Office has announced the details of its campaign to register Fijians living in Australia to vote in the 2014 General Election.

Five registration teams from the Elections Office will be registering potential voters from 14 February until 22 February at multiple locations across New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, including Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.

The teams will also be visiting other major towns and cities in these three states, such as Penrith, Griffith, Ballarat, Banyo, and Cairns.

The complete program is available on the Elections Office website or from the Fiji High Commission in Canberra.

Every Fijian over the age of 18 is being encouraged to come forward and is required to produce a valid Fijian passport.

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Chen Bunn Young, said that the Commission would be working closely with the Permanent Secretary Responsible for Elections, Mohammed Saneem, and the Fiji High Commission to oversee this important undertaking.

“This is the chance for Fijians in Australia to register to make their voices heard in the 2014 General Election and I urge them to take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.

In announcing the details of the registration drive, the Permanent Secretary urged potential voters to check the official program that is available on the Elections Office website or from the Fiji High Commission.

“With the assistance of the High Commission, careful planning has gone into this exercise to allow our registration teams to canvas as wide an area as possible in only nine days. It is very important that people check the program to know when a team will be visiting a town or city near them,” he said.

Commenting on the announcement, the Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said that the registration of overseas voters was an important part of ensuring a free and fair election.

“The Bainimarama Government is determined to meet our goal of an election that is fair, credible and conducted to the best international standards. This includes giving Fijians living abroad the opportunity to register and vote,” he said.

The campaign of registering Fijian voters living abroad began in October last year in New Zealand. After Australia, voter registration teams will travel to the west coast of North America and Britain.

The registration teams in Australia will be led by Asenaca Kolinivala, Acting Principal Administration Officer at the Fijian Elections Office.

FIJIAN ATTORNEY GENERAL BRIEFS INDIAN ELECTORAL COMMISSION ON 2014 ELECTION

The Attorney-General briefed the Indian Electoral Commissioners, Mr. V S Sampath (Chief Commissioner), Mr. Harishankar Brahma and Mr. Syed Nasim Ahmad Zaidi and their staff on the preparations for the 2014 general election, in a meeting with the Indian Electoral Commission, on 31 January 2014, in New Delhi India.

“Holding elections that are free, fair and credible, based on a fair electoral system is the absolute priority of the Bainimarama Government, and the Indian Government including the Indian Electoral Commission has shown a deep level of understanding and support for this process. Accordingly we look forward to close cooperation between the Indian Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office and Fijian Electoral Commission”.

“In fact the Indian Electoral Commission has agreed to finalize a Memorandum of Understanding between the two Electoral Commissions, to enable flow of information, technical assistance and personnel between the two agencies”, said the Attorney General.

“We had very constructive exchange of information with the Indian Electoral commissioners and discussed a wide range of issues including the elections preparations, the role of the Fijian Electoral Commission and how for the first time Fiji will have one day polling”, the Attorney-General said.

“The Indian Electoral Commissioners commended the appointment of the independent Fijian Electoral Commission, saying that it signifies the independence and credibility of the election process,” said the Attorney-General.

The Attorney General said “To get such endorsement and pledge of assistance and cooperation by the Electoral Commission of the world’s largest democracy demonstrates confidence in the processes and work done so far in the preparations for the elections by the Bainimarama Government.”

The Minister and his delegation received a demonstration on the electronic voting system that has been widely and successfully used in the Indian elections.

The Indian Electoral Commission was also interested in the Fijian Registration of Political Parties Decree and asked the Attorney General for a copy of it.

STATEMENT ON THE SINGLE-DAY POLL FROM THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL AND MINISTER RESPONSIBLE FOR ELECTIONS AIYAZ SAYED-KHAIYUM

A single-day poll for Fiji’s 2014 General Election will promote integrity and transparency in the process, encourage voter turnout and keep costs down.

We make this statement on the basis of a wealth of international precedent and widely-accepted best practice.

Indeed, the Elections Office is working in close partnership with a number of international elections experts, all of whom agree that a single-day poll is not only possible, but is also the best option for Fiji.

Unfortunately, some politicians are trying to turn this into a political issue by making unfounded statements in order to call into question the legitimacy of the preparations for elections.

The facts are as follows. First, a single-day poll greatly decreases the chances for fraudulent behavior, in particular tampering with ballot boxes. In the past, keeping ballot boxes secure and maintaining proper chain-of-custody records during their transport were big problems that in many cases weakened voters’ confidence in the veracity of the election results.

In 2014, full ballot boxes will not be transported long distances or stored for extended periods. After voting closes on election day, all votes will be counted – and the results announced – at the polling centre in full view of the public, election observers, and party scrutinisers. This will greatly enhance the transparency of the process and will boost voters’ confidence in the results.

Second, a single-day poll improves voter turnout by creating a greater sense of national occasion. It promotes a high level of excitement surrounding a day of special importance, the feeling of being part of a significant national undertaking. A multiple-day poll can actually dilute this sense of significance and importance.

Third, contrary to the claims of a number of politicians, a single-day poll is actually less expensive and logistically challenging than a multiple-day poll. The single-day poll will require around 2,000 polling stations (up from 1,148 in 2006). Yes, this means that more staff will have to be hired than in the past, but they will work fewer days. All other overhead costs – such as fuel, housing, transportation, electricity – will be less as well. This goes for the costs of political parties too.

It is also worth noting that the Elections Office will have to cater for more registered voters than at any other time in our nation’s history, and this is reflected in the estimated costs. In 2006, just shy of 480,000 Fijians were registered to vote. In the lead-up to the 2014 election, already 543,000 Fijians have registered to vote and there are still more eligible voters who have not yet registered.

And, of course, more polling stations mean much more convenience for voters in terms of finding a location close to where they live or work.

Finally, although the cost of a single-day poll is less than that of a multiple-day poll, we want to state very clearly that this Government will not compromise on standards or in anyway jeopardise the integrity of the process in order to save a few dollars. A free and fair election is our absolute priority.

MEMBERS OF ELECTORAL COMMISSION ANNOUNCED

The members of the Electoral Commission that will supervise the 2014 general election have been announced.

The Commission is made up of seven prominent citizens from various walks of life headed by its Chair, leading legal practitioner Chen Bunn Young, who’s a former President of the Fiji Law Society.

The other members are academic Professor Vijay Naidu of USP, the tourism industry leader and marketing expert, James Sowane, accountant and financial advisor Jenny Seeto, the filmmaker and media specialist, Larry Thomas, electoral expert and priest, Father David Arms, and the educationalist and civil society leader, Alisi Daurewa.

The Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said each member of the Commission brings a unique perspective and set of skills to the task of supervising the first genuine democratic election in Fiji’s history.

“All of these outstanding individuals are credible, apolitical and together, will bring integrity to the Commission’s work. They will also make their individual contributions, whether it’s high- level legal expertise in the case of Chen Bunn Young, marketing expertise in the case of James Sowane, financial expertise in the case of Jenny Seeto, existing electoral expertise in the case of Father Arms, communications expertise in the case of Larry Thomas and the broad educational a social expertise of Professor Naidu and Alisi Daurewa”.

“I want to thank them all for accepting their roles on the Commission, which is a vital component of the Bainimarama Government’s plan to hold a free and fair election to the very highest international standards”, he said.

Under the terms of the 2013 Constitution, the Electoral Commission is responsible for the registration of voters and the conduct of free and fair elections.

It is also responsible for voter education, the registration of candidates for election, the settlement of electoral disputes and monitoring and enforcing compliance with any written law governing elections and political parties.

Under the Constitution, the Chair of the Commission needs to either be a judge or a legal practitioner who is able to become a judge, a provision fulfilled by Chen Bunn Young, a senior Lautoka- based solicitor and barrister.

In a related development, the Elections Office has announced that it will soon be seeking applications for 34 key posts in the Office. Within those categories are a total of 230 positions. They include the Deputy Supervisor of Elections, the Director of Electoral Procedures, the Director of Corporate Services and the Director of Communications.

Another 160 staff will be recruited in a second phase later in the year and an additional 14,000 throughout Fiji for the day of the election itself.

Fiji Elections Office Needs Supervisor of Elections

9/16/2013

The Fiji Elections Office is calling for applications for the position of Supervisor of Elections in the lead up to the 2014 parliamentary elections.

The advertisement has been published locally and has also been distributed overseas through diplomatic channels.

The Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said that the Bainimarama Government was particularly encouraging applications from elections experts overseas.

“It is very important that this position be filled by an individual with the necessary skills and expertise, who can build capacity in the Elections Office and who can ensure that Fiji’s national elections are conducted in a fair, transparent and credible manner,” said the Minister.

The position is established under the 2013 Constitution and key responsibilities include administrating the registration of voters and conducting elections for Members of Parliament.

Preferably, applicants must have at least 15 years’ experience in conducting elections and must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills and capacity to conduct national elections in one day using best international practices.

Applicants must also be able to demonstrate that they have the ability and a plan to build long term capacity, skills transfer and career paths within the Elections Office.

Applications must be received by no later than Friday, 25 October 2013.

AG Meets with IMF Article IV Team

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Article IV Mission, who are in the country holding consultations pertaining to Fiji’s economic development, yesterday (Wednesday 7th August 2013), met with the Attorney-General, Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

They held discussions on the Fijian economy and also discussed the lead up to the 2014 Elections.

WORK BEGINS ON FIJI’S ELECTION NEEDS

Three election experts are in Fiji to begin assessing what the country’s Elections Office will need to successfully conduct the 2014 General Election and subsequent polls.

They have commenced what is officially being called a Gap Analysis/Needs Assessment that will concentrate on capacity building in the Elections Office.

The team includes a specialist from the Commonwealth, (Carl Dundas), one from the Elections Office of New Zealand, (Melissa Thorpe), and another from the European Commission, (Etienne Claeye).

The three are charged with identified the capacity needs of Fiji’s Elections Office, which will assist countries and development agencies best identify how they can contribute to the election process.

The Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, welcomed the three experts to Fiji.

“ The Bainimarama Government is treating the Elections Office as totally apolitical in our quest to ensure that the 2014 parliamentary elections are fair, transparent and have complete credibility. We also expect that this assessment and all development partners will also be apolitical, which is in the best interests of the country and sustained parliamentary democracy”, he said.

The AG said the Government was intent on building capacity in the Elections Office not only for next year’s poll but subsequent elections.

“From now on, we will be holding elections every four years and they can actually be called every three and a half years. This means creating an Elections Office that has a permanent staff trained to a high level and capable of delivering elections held to the highest international standards”, he said.

The Attorney General said that previous elections had been hampered by a lack of expertise on the part of those charged with conducting them.

“We need to establish proper career paths within the Elections Office to ensure that we not only attract the best people but keep them”, he added.

Last week, the Attorney General chaired the inaugural meeting of a Coordinating Committee made up of representatives of countries with which Fiji has diplomatic relations to begin the process of discussing Fiji’s election needs.

“ For the first time, the Government is considering the idea of having the election conducted in one day instead of over a week. This will obviously involve the Elections Office in a far more demanding logistics exercise than it has been traditionally  prepared for,” the AG added.

Fijian Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Press Conference on assistance for the 2014 Elections