Former Nauru Presidents plead for international observers
Two former Nauru presidents say international election observers are needed on the island, several months before the expected election.
Two former Nauru presidents say international observers for this year's general elections are needed now.
Sprent Dabwido and Marcus Stephen are asking the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Forum to start providing oversight immediately after recent law changes they say undermine the democratic process.
The two men say the government has brought in barriers for potential candidates and that this would unfairly affect the election outcome.
It has already made it difficult for public servants wanting to stand by requiring them to resign their jobs three months before the poll.
Last week the parliament, which has just two opposition MPs, passed changes to the Electoral Act, hiking candidate fees from $US75 to $US1500.
They also dramatically upped the charge for moving constituencies from $US7 to $US113.
This is all being done by a parliament that has just two Opposition MPs after five, including Mr Dabwido, were suspended by the government nearly two years ago.
Sprent Dabwido explained why observers are needed now.
SPRENT DABWIDO: According to the recommendation of the observers two elections back, including the Forum and the Secretariat, the main concern was the abuse of the election system; the transferring of people from districts. So we put up a set of new policies, that you cannot transfer from any district to any district, you either reside at that district or you will register in that district and they started changing that. The electoral role, they changed it the last few days and about two months ago they made another law where you had to resign from your work. So all these things are restricting people, new candidates and also making it very hard for candidates also to stand, they need enough money, so all these things have started to fall into place where we believe this government is trying to control these elections to be in their favour. And that's when we decided that we will write a letter to the two observers that come to Nauru and tell them, you know, to be more aware to come right now while they're changing the laws. This government is amending laws, well it abolished the old law and made a new one, so we believe they're making these restrictions on people from entering politics. We're hoping the two observing bodies, the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Pacific Islands Forum, can be here to have a look at these and not just come during the actual election time which is probably in July but come to look at what's happening now. We feel also they should look at the national budget that's going to be discussed and debated - well not debated, there's no opposition to the government - and see the slush fund they're going to approve for themselves again.
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