EU says it brings substantial experience to Fiji observer group
The European Union's ambassador for the Pacific says its experts will bring substantial experience to the observer group that will be monitoring Fiji's upcoming elections.
The European Union's ambassador for the Pacific says its election experts will bring substantial experience to the observer group that will monitor Fiji's upcoming elections.
Unlike in 2006, the EU has not been invited to field a full stand-alone European Election Observation Mission.
Instead, the Fiji authorities have allowed the EU to send three experts to join the multi-national observer group or MOG.
The EU's ambassador in Suva, Andrew Jacobs told Amelia Langford its election specialists are expected to arrive in Fiji this week and start work immediately.
ANDREW JACOBS: Together they have worked on over 70 elections around the world in different countries and they have provided technical assistance to the elections authorities, they have done direct observation and we think that their experience and expertise will bring a lot to the MOG exercise in Fiji.
AMELIA LANGFORD: And how important is it to the EU that they are included in this?
AJ: Well it is very important for us to participate in the observer exercise and we have been supporting the return to democracy in Fiji over the last few years. We have had a lot of support going in, for example, to the Fiji elections office. We have been helping to train the trainers working in the polling stations. We have been providing support to civil society and so on and we hope that as soon as the elections are over we will be in a position to lift the restrictions that we still have on development cooperation with Fiji, which have been in place since 2006, and in order to do that we need to have a thorough assessment of the process leading to the return to democracy
including the elections so we are very pleased to have these observers - these experts coming into the country as well.
AL: Yes now you refer to them as experts as well. How do you see the difference to being in the observer group though they are experts. I guess compared to 2006?
AJ: It's really semantics. I mean, they will be observers because they are taking part in the MOG but what we did in 2006 followed the standard EU terms of reference for an election observation mission, which meant that we had about 40 people in the country. They visited 319 polling stations and clearly with three people we are just taking part in a broader mission with other countries and other organisations and so it is slightly different in the way in which we are approaching it but we call them experts because they bring a lot of expertise with them.
AL: And of course the EU hasn't been issued a separate invitation this time to have a separate group. Is that a source of frustration?
AJ: Ah no, we would have been happy to have brought in a full mission as we did a few years ago but the authorities decided that they would prefer to have a group of countries working together and certainly we respect that and we are happy to put our three people who are coming in in that framework of the MOG which is now up and running and I'm very pleased that we will be working.
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