Call for more instruction for Fiji voters
Fiji watchdog hopes that last days before poll will see the voters given more relevant information about candidates and the electoral process.
Transparency International Fiji says there needs to be more instruction for voters in the last days before new Wednesday's election.
The chairman of TI Fiji, Api Tudreu, told Don Wiseman that this is vital if the people are to understand the process and be able to choose quality leaders for the country.
API TUDREU: We've got out there 248 candidates altogether competing for the 50 seats and a lot of our people have not seen the background to these candidates. A lot of our people do not really understand well how democracy should play out in an election and beyond elections and I think a bit of information on who are the best leaders would help so they bring quality choices when they go out to select their leaders. There is not much civic education allowed in Fiji but in the last part of this preparation i would hope that a lot more information can go to our people to allow them to prepare well, knowing why they must go and make a good choice - why this is important for us. But also learn as well that it is not just the elections - it is after the elections. They have got to engage with our leaders to require them to account for their decision. The mechanisms are there so we hope that that process can continue after the elections but we would have hoped there was more before the elections but unfortunately that has not been possible.
DON WISEMAN: Have you been involved at all in any civic education?
AT: Yes, this is the kind of work that we have done before. We have tried to get out there, do our thing with schools with the senior students now joining elections, with youth groups, but the requirements are much more stringent so we didn't reply for the licences that were needed for us to conduct this training. But all we wanted to do was to distribute material to those people who can then pass it on but it seems also that under the regulations any kind of discussions, any kind of publication or material, is considered as campaigning so it is a pity that our people won't have access to any kind of information that we believe they should be getting so they know what to do and why they are doing it and democracy is about engaging after the elections as well.
DW: One of the big issues I imagine would be this enormous ballot paper with 248 names on it or 248 numbers on it. A lot of people are going to find that very difficult aren't they?
AT: Yeah, the candidates now are just focussing on telling their numbers to people so they will remember because there are just too many faces. This is the way it is [gestures to voter instruction book], I mean it is just pictures and the names and the numbers but they won't carry this to the voting booth so it is quite a challenge for everyone so they need to remember.
DW: So everyone will get a voter instruction book but they cannot take it into the booth?
AT: No, they can't. They will need to remember who they chosen and the numbers. They can only choose one person and choose once only.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: