Nauru opposition alleges campaign interference
The Nauru opposition MP and former president, Sprent Dabwido, suspects the government has intervened to stifle his election campaign.
The Nauru MP and former president, Sprent Dabwido, says he suspects the government has intervened to stop local media from running the opposition's campaign advertising.
Nauru's general election is on Saturday, and Mr Dabwido has also accused the government of manipulating the police commissioner to prevent the opposition from holding a rally.
Mr Dabwido told me he hopes the presence of election observers from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Forum, will enable the opposition to campaign freely.
SPRENT DABWIDO: On Thursday we applied for a permit to gather peacefully so we can do some presentations on our visions and and our plans. A political rally. The police said that is not a problem and we will just go and talk to our boss and get his approval. But when it got to the police commissioner it was just a blatant no. In my own personal belief I think this, I think the police commissioner is also related to the minister for justice just went to him and said these people trying to do this thing and I think the political gods of Nauru said no and that was it.
BENJAMIN ROBINSON DRAWBRIDGE: In terms of your political advertising you have been trying to run adverts?
SD: Basically the opposition has two advertisements that are ready to go because you know we keep seeing the past months the government using the local TV and Radio for advertising their, promoting what they have been doing and what they plan to do. So we have made two advertisements to put up their one is ready to go right now one is almost ready. They said that is all right we will get back to you after we talk to higher authorities and now we are still waiting for that. And now there is only what, four more days, five more days till the election. So we are not too helpful on that now. So it is still unfair treatment of potential candidates here between those who support government and those who don't support government.
BRD: So how then are you going to campaign if you are unable to rally or run advertising?
SD: Well we tried visiting houses door to door, we have put up banners along the road. We have issued brochures to houses that is probably as much as we can do. At the same time unfortunately our brochures we cannot be too critical of the government otherwise we end up facing more charges from the government for, it is illegal to be seen as political hatred they put that in the criminal code somewhere. So we just have to rely on letting people know our plans and our visions rather than criticise the government for their failures. One of our biggest issues was trying to tell the whole Nauru you know these are the failures of the government in the past three years and we are scared to do that. Just in case they take charges on us and it might jeopardise our coming elections.
BRD: Are you hopeful that the presence of the observers may enable you to campaign properly?
SD: We are very hopeful, with the observers when they are here we will raise our complaints to them. And we are hoping that they could advise us you know yes you can go and do your campaign in this manner we don't see any problem with that. We are looking for them to reassure us that we won't face any risk from somewhere else where we are here to see a fair election. And hopefully they can do something about it. If not at least they can start addressing it with the government straight away. Right now we cannot even talk to the government ourselves. So yes we are hopeful the observers can do more than just observe.
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