UFDF accuses Fiji AG of interfering with electoral commission
The United Front for a Democratic Fiji is accusing the attorney-general of interfering with the electoral commission over a missing laptop.
The political grouping, the United Front for a democratic Fiji, is calling on the government to stay away from the Electoral Commission, accusing the attorney-general of interfering in the case of a missing laptop.
The group's coordinator, Mick Beddoes, says Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is interfering with the election process after he called for staff to be sacked when a commission laptop was stolen earlier this week.
Mr Beddoes told Jamie Tahana it's for the commission to decide the course of action, not Mr Sayed-Khaiyum.
MICK BEDDOES: There is an Electoral Commission in place and it's their job to manage, prepare and run the elections. It's no longer the job of the attorney-general to be dictating what does or does not occur, but from the statements and the comments of the attorney-general that were reported in the papers the other day he's most definitely still calling the shots and this is where our concern lies.
JAMIE TAHANA: How do we know he's calling the shots though, because he called for resignations which the chair of the Electoral Commission didn't put through. I mean, that's showing the independence of the Electoral Commission isn't it?
MB: Well look, we've been down this track before and we've all been witness to it and aware of it in the Yash Ghai commission and this is just the first salvo, if you will, that's occurred. The fact remains that political parties have been for some time now - since the rolls have been completed - calling for soft copies of the rolls. There's nothing sensitive, or there's nothing secretive - there should not in any case - about this. It is essential that we political parties get a soft copy of the roll and there's absolutely no reason why that should be withheld and it continues to be withheld and therefore he's going on about the missing laptop which contains supposedly sensitive material and supposedly the sensitive material is a list of the registered voters which should be publicly available in any event.
JT: Yeah the soft roll might be publicly available but surely there's other sensitive information on that, that shouldn't be public, clearly?
MB: Uh, look if it's to do with the privacy of the voters then basically we're all in the same boat - every citizen who's registered, filled out the same form and answered the same basic questions none of which I imagine is sensitive enough not to be given, it's just the basic information you need to register as a voter. So what else is there that can be classified as sensitive? The fact remains that it is supposed to be a free and open and fair elections and as far as the political parties are concerned they need access to this information for their planning and campaigning. That's still not available to them and we're less than six months now from an election.
JT: Do you believe Chen Bunn Young, the chairman of the Electoral Commission, when he says the electoral process hasn't been compromised and that he is independent?
MB: I have no reason to doubt Mr Young when he says that but Mr Young needs to be aware of the fact that the people of Fiji and indeed the political parties have been shoved from pillar to post over the past two years by the regime. And therefore he's going to have to do a lot more than just make that statement to give any sense of comfort that indeed what he's saying is actually going to take place. So really the ball is in his court.
The laptop has since been recovered and one person has been arrested.
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