15 Feb 2017

Chair of Fiji elections commission vows independence

9:39 am on 15 February 2017

The newly-appointed chair of Fiji's Electoral Commission says he's committed to fighting for the body's independence.

A woman votes in the Fiji elections.

A voter casts her vote in the 2014 elections which restored democratic rule after eight years of military rule Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley

Suresh Chandra was appointed to head the constitutional body tasked with supervising the elections office last week.

The last commission, whose term expired on the 9 January, had battled the elections office and the supervisor of elections, Mohammed Saneem, in court over his acting contrary to the commission's advice.

And a former commission member, Vijay Naidu, stepped down in 2015 citing difficulty in working with the office and Mr Saneem.

But Mr Chandra said that is all water under the bridge and the commission would be starting fresh, although he said he isn't afraid to fight for the commission.

"We will be making independent decisions and if that decision needs to be reviewed or if in the process of making the decision there is any conflict there, then it will have to be resolved by way of legal opinions and if not then, yeah, whatever is necessary we can go ahead and resolve it," said Mr Chandra.

After the 2014 elections, a multinational observer group recommended the commission increase its transparency.

Mr Chandra said maintaining transparency and ensuring the fairest possible elections are his biggest priorities.

"Provide all these reports and things that come out from the commission to the public and the parliament, and that the report goes to the president and all.

"So we will make sure that the transparency is maintained and we need to see that the credibility of the process is maintained and the election procedures are followed."

Listen to full interview with Suresh Chandra on Dateline Pacific

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