Electoral Commission chairman names 'pressing' priorities
Fiji's Electoral Commission lists most pressing priorities, which include appointing election supervisor.
The chairman of Fiji's Electoral Commission has listed his most pressing priorities, which include appointing an election supervisor.
The government recently announced a seven member commission, headed by former president of the Fiji Law Society Chen Bunn Young, to oversee the elections promised for September.
The last election supervisor, Felicity Heffernan, quit in 2008 shortly after the regime reneged on its promise to hold elections in 2009.
Chen Bunn Young spoke to Amelia Langford about what the commission aims to do and what needs immediate attention.
CHEN BUNN YOUNG: Well, i think the constitution provides that we are there to ensure that this country goes through the election and we are responsible for registering the voters, educating them, settling disputes between the parties, and just giving directions and ensuring that we have everything we need to put into place so that we can have a fair and transparent election, hopefully in September.
AMELIA LANGFORD: And tell me about the other members on the commission with you - do you think there is a good mix of people?
CBY: I would like to think so and if you were to look at their background each of them are actually leaders in their own field. We have just had two meetings and from the two meetings I have had with them they have all displayed a high degree of professionalism in approaching their responsibilities.
AL: And so, what are the immediate priorities for the commission?
CBY: Well, I think the two things are that, actually there are three, the first one is the appointing of a supervisor of election and then the second one would be all the backup staff and obviously the other pressing issue is the regulations for the election and I understand it is coming to its final draft and it will be then given to the commission for their review and comments before we actually finalise the regulations and we need to do that in a hurry as well.
AL: Yes, when can we expect to see the supervisor appointed?
CBY: I can't give you any timeframe for that. I mean, everybody knows that it is a pressing need to appoint one and everybody wishes that it was done sooner rather than later.
AL: Do you feel confident that everything can be done in time?
CBY: I think so. All things being equal i think we can meet that deadline but it will be with a lot of commitment on everybody's part - the commissioners, those who will be employed in the electoral office, it is not a small task.
AL: Are you confident these elections are going to go ahead?
CBY: I have no basis of doubting it will go ahead. The Government's attitude, the meetings that I have had with the Attorney-General...Nothing has been put to me or suggested to me or anything done to give me any concern to think that it will not go ahead.
AL: And the commission can be independent?
CBY: Oh absolutely, without any doubt. So far, we have just been let to do everything ourselves and without any interference so I think, we've just been appointed about two weeks ago, and everything that has happened so far
and i think that has been relayed to us points to that direction - i don't envision any interference from the government.
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