25 May 2007

Fiji beats deadline to appoint electoral commission

11:08 am on 25 May 2007

Fiji's interim attorney general says the current administration has beaten the September 15 deadline given to the European Union to appoint members of the Electoral Commission.

Aiyaz Sayed-Kaiyum's comments follow the appointment of a chairman and three members of the Electoral Commission through a proclamation by President Iloilo yesterday.

He says in the commitment given to the EU, the government had undertaken to appoint the commission, "taking the reality of the present situation and to focus on the future."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says that statement is there to capture a situation such as the present where the prime minister is required to consult the opposition leader before recommending names for the Electoral Commission but there is no opposition leader.

He says the appointments have been made to show the commitment of the current administration to free, fair and transparent elections for a fully functioning democratic government.

President Iloilo has also appointed lawyer Mohammed Kamal-Udin Sahu Khan as chairman of the Electoral Commission.

Three new members appointed are former British army soldier, academic and former MP, Dr Fereti Dewa; an expert on voting systems, Father Dr David Arms; and Talei Burness - all for five year terms.

The fifth member is expected to be appointed soon.