Fiji election rules suggest regime determined to retain power
The president of the Fiji Law Society says decrees which control rules around the elections process, suggest the current regime is hell-bent on retaining power.
The president of the Fiji Law Society, Dorsami Naidu, says decrees which control rules around the elections process suggest the current regime is determined to retain power.
Government-issued decrees such as the Political Parties Decree and the Electoral Decree have been widely criticised for placing onerous conditions on parties who want to contest the election in September.
Mr Naidu told Bridget Tunnicliffe the rules seem to be tailor-made to prevent parties from participating effectively and freely, in what are meant to be the first democratic elections in the country in eight years.
DORSAMI NAIDU: There are so many obstacles, so many conditions placed in your path, regarding registration, regarding who can be an official in the party et cetera.
BRIDGET TUNNICLIFFE: And we have had a complaint to the police about Frank Bainimarama and the fact that he started campaigning before officially registering the party. I mean, is that just a double standard?
DN: Oh yes, it is. I mean, he started campaigning well before, and his party got registered or even he got the name before he lodged it for registration. Common knowledge, common fact. And he's used, people have complained that state resources have been used in the campaign, which totally goes against the democratic system of how we conduct these things.
BT: One of the other controversial aspects is that NGOs with foreign funding are being stopped from organising election-related activities. That seems very restrictive again.
DN: The NGOs have basically been promoting the right of an individual to vote, and why you should vote, it's more an educational process. I can't see how that will affect the elections in any way, apart from bringing out a larger number of the populace, registered numbers, registered voters, to vote. So it wasn't thought out, I don't think any particular decree was given much thought to, it was just put in to control other parties or other individuals who are not in line with the regime's thinking.
BT: Are there other aspects of the decree that particularly concern you?
DN: Well, the whole decree basically. You know, in order to form a party, to register a party, you've got to get so many signatures from here and there, you know, different parts of the country. In any democratic country, it's the vote of the people who decide. So why are we worried, and why do we put in such onerous conditions in decrees that deny people the right to participate effectively and freely in the elections?
BT: What do you think the regime are so afraid of that they have created such draconian rules and decrees around the election?
DN: I think they want to get back in power. It's very unfortunate if that happens because we've had coups since '87, and none of the coups have been successful. Every time we have been put back quarter of a century economically, politically and socially. And every time there's been a coup, the prime purpose has been to remove the existing constitution and put in another constitution. Anyone who says that they were right, you know, coups should have been carried out, they need themselves checked out I think.
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