Nauru election date announcement imminent
Nauru's election date could be announced in parliament tomorrow as the 3 year term ends.
Nauru's election date could be announced in Parliament on Friday as it sits for the end of a controversial term.
One of the two opposition MPs who remain in Parliament after the others were suspended two years ago, says the government's moves to shut down dissent may have backfired.
But prospective candidates are facing major challenges in their bids to either change the government or at least occupy the empty opposition benches.
Alex Perrottet reports.
The government has hiked the fee for nominations from $100 to $2000 Australian dollars and opposition MP Riddell Akua says it's the most cynical thing he's seen in his time in Parliament.
But with the term completed, Mr Akua is hitting campaign mode, and is upbeat against the odds.
He says due to the exorbitant fee, there's been some enthusiastic fundraising, and the move may backfire.
Selling food is a pretty popular method, Nauruans like to eat. And I see a lot of support in that too. I see a lot of people supporting the candidates, the new candidates, so there is a feeling of change in the people, though they don't actually say that but just by the evidence of support that they're giving to the candidates, by that I can see that they do want change.
Last week a man who spoke out against the fee hike, Corey Menke, lost his job when the government directed his company to fire him.
He is one of 18 people challenging the government in court.
Also in that group is Mathew Batsiua, one of the suspended MPs prevented from representing his constituents for two years, for his part in a protest outside Parliament that the government says became violent.
Well they've been doing that for a while the government. Under the Waqa government they've been trying to silence the voice of dissent in Nauru and that's just against the principles of democracy. You know you need to have voices of dissent. And we've seen changes to laws in Nauru to make it a criminal offence to criticise the government.
A former secretary of justice, David Lambourne says there's a stark lack of international condemnation.
Another suspended MP, Roland Kun, had his visa cancelled one year ago and hasn't been able to visit his family in New Zealand, while they have been barred entry to Nauru.
David Lambourne says the treatment of lawfully elected MPs like Roland Kun is tragic.
He's been stuck in Nauru now for a year, kept away from his wife and family, and there's been no criminal charges, not even an investigation. The steps the Nauru government have taken over the last couple of years really should have seen much stronger opposition from the other countries in the Pacific particularly from Australia and New Zealand but I think there's also a sense of frustration that people in the top of the Nauru government at the moment don't seem to consider themselves accountable to anybody.
But Mr Akua says while people are afraid of speaking out as they may lose their jobs, many are likely to show their displeasure at the ballot box.
It's happening again now, that occurred in 2003, so I'm seeing it all over again but now it's not about the economy, the economy is running pretty well, but it's about the right of people. It's about the fear of what is happening, it's about the fear of tomorrow, that an MP can be suspended.
Riddell Akua says despite the government's fee hike, many new candidates are hoping to stand.
According to this year's new Electoral Act, the election must be held no later than six weeks from the dissolution of Parliament.
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