Fiji parties query election supervisor appointment
The Fiji Labour Party says there is no chance of free and fair elections this year, with the appointment of a biased elections supervisor and a decree that could protects vote riggers.
The Fiji Labour Party says there is no chance of free and fair elections this year, with the appointment of a biased elections supervisor and a decree that could protect vote riggers.
The party's president, Lavinia Padarath, says the Electoral Commission, and its 28-year-old head Mohammed Saneem, appear to be accepting objectionable provisions in the Electoral Decree.
Ms Padarath says that Section 3 (3) grants blanket immunity to election officials in the course of their work, which she says effectively signifies that if vote rigging were to take place, no one could be prosecuted.
She told Jamie Tahana that the young and inexperienced Mohammed Saneem will struggle to remain independent and a more neutral supervisor is needed.
LAVINIA PADARATH: He has been working for them, they hired him and he had been working for them and always saying we should have a more neutral person and the best choice would have been all those interested people that applied. I think there were nine [there were 13] if I'm not wrong applicants that came from overseas and some of them, not only the one that they are saying pulled out, many of them. And I understand Saneem's deputy now, I've read a little bit about him, he's very qualified, fully qualified, he has the qualification and the experience to be the supervisor. You know why this young guy who's not qualified, who's inexperienced, they know, they want to put one of their own people there.
JAMIE TAHANA: Is there any evidence of Mr Saneem having a bias towards the regime or is it just a suspicion that because he's previously worked with the Justice Ministry, he's inherently biased towards the attorney general here?
LP: Well you have to live here to understand, we have a small place, everyone knows each other and you know he has been a product of this government. He only came into the lime light when appointed by this government, that's how he's been there, a 28-year-old and now they want to use him into this area, it's most unfair for the people of Fiji.
JT: And you've also got questions or concerns around a provision in the Electoral Decree, Section 3 (3) which grants blanket immunity you say to election officials from any criminal or civil proceedings. Is that a particular concern for you that it ultimately signifies that if elections were rigged no one could be prosecuted?
LP: I'm baffled as you are asking me because this has been the kind of constant practice throughout what the government does. There's a lot of control, they have to be on top of things and they usually run ahead, create a section of the decree and they will be the first one to break them or in this instance it's made to suit them. It's in preparation that should anything happen, it's just like the immunity in the constitution, that has been the practice of this government in protecting themselves.
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