SODELPA and five other political parties have been working to improve Fiji's electoral system to ensure free and fair elections
Despite collective efforts by the Freedom Alliance, Fiji Labour Party, National Federation Party (NFP), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Unity Fiji and Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) to have genuine dialogue on issues critical to ensure free and fair elections, the Supervisor of Elections and Electoral Commission continue to be obstructive in response to our concerns.
Unfortunately, the Commission has downplayed the many concerns about the current electoral laws and procedures.
In 2017, we submitted a comprehensive report to the Fiji Electoral Commission with 121 recommendations for reform.
The recommendations were based on our experience since 2013 when all political parties were de-registered and required to re-register under the Political Parties Decree 2013, as well as our experience in the 2014 general elections where we did not compete on a level playing field with the ruling Bainimarama Fiji First Party.
Our May 2017 submission, is online: http://bit.ly/fjElectoralRefomSubm
Our submission proposed amendments to existing electoral laws, procedures and processes, which could have been implemented one year before the 2018 elections. However the Electoral Commission and the FFP Government refused to consider amending the laws.
The parties continued to remain engaged and in discussions with the Commission (which is obliged by law to consult parties).
In addition, parties held briefings with the Diplomatic missions which fund elections, with civil society (non-government organisations, academics, religious bodies, community organisations, trade unions and other civil society groups).
We also held public panel discussions and in our own awareness sessions in the community, we discussed these concerns.
Parties also explored ways to work together to monitor and audit the coming elections. We asked the Electoral Commission to hold workshops to explain the electoral process from start to finish - two workshops were held in November and December 2017, after which parties requested additional workshops including on logistics on the packing moving of ballot papers and ballot boxes from the warehouse to polling stations, back to storage and then to the National Count Center - but the Commission refuses to hold this workshop until the Writ of Election is issued. This makes it difficult for the Parties to train the minimum 7500 polling agents for the 2468 polling stations in the coming election.
Nonetheless Parties are calling on the people of Fiji to put their hands up and volunteer to be a Polling Agent in 2018. In 2014 NGOs asked the Minister for Elections for permission to observe as independent local observers, but the Minister refused this request. It is unknown how he will decide in 2018.
Parties continued to meet with the Electoral Commission and to engage in correspondence, but as of September 6, 2018, we remain dissatisfied with the arrogant and obstructive response from the Commission and the Supervisor of Elections.
Our correspondence of 27 July, 6 August, 16th August and 28th August are available for viewing on the links (URL) below:
1. Letter of 27 July 2018 from 6 parties to
the EC: http://bit.ly/LetterToEC270718
2. Letter of 30 July 2018 from EC to the
6 Parties: http://bit.ly/ECletter30July
3. Letter of 6 August 2018 from 6 parties
to the EC: http://bit.ly/060818toEC
4. Letter of 8 August 2018 from EC to
the 6 Parties: http://bit.ly/ECletter8Aug
5. Letter of 16 August 2018 from 6 parties
to the EC: http://bit.ly/LetterToEC16Aug
6. Communique of 16 August 2018 from
the Leaders of 6 Opposition Parties:
7. Letter of 29 August 2018 from 6 Parties to
the EC requesting a ruling on placement
of Polling Agents during the count and
other electoral processes:
8. Letter of 6 Sept 2018 from EC to
the 6 Parties: http://bit.ly/ECletter6sept2018
2017 Correspondence between the five
political parties and the Electoral
2014 Multinational Observer Group and Electoral Commission Reports
2014 Report of the Electoral Commission
(including recommendations for electoral
2014 Final Report of the Elections Multinational
Observer Group (MOG) -
Joint Report of the Electoral Commission and
Supervisor of Elections 2014 -
CONCERNS ABOUT 2018 VOTER ROLL ERRORS
We have discovered some grave errors in the 2018 Voter Roll, released on 1 August 2018 by the Supervisor of Elections.
A careful review revealed that 208 Polling Stations from Tailevu and Ra Provinces were allotted by mistake to Kadavu Province - these 208 Stations have over 65,000 voters registered, which has almost doubled the total number of voters for Kadavu, erroneously.
Such errors are of great concern and put into question the much claimed "readiness" of the Elections Office, and its professionalism, for the coming 2018 Elections.
UPDATE - 10 SEPTEMBER 2018
As of 6 September 2018, the Electoral Commission is yet to respond to the Parties joint letter of 16 August 2018, requesting a response and clarification on 19 issues, critical to ensure free and fair elections. The 19 issues are listed here: http://bit.ly/LetterToEC16Aug
An election supervisor holds up votes for scrutineers to overlook at a local sports arena after the poll booths closed in Suva, the capital of Fiji Photo: PETER PARKS/AFP. Source
VOLUNTEER AS A POLLING AGENT TODAY!
GIVEN THE RESPONSE FROM THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION AND THE SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS, IT IS UP TO US AS INDIVIDUALS, TO GUARD AND PROTET OUR OWN VOTE
With only 500 voters maximum per polling station, Fiji will have 2468 polling stations in 2018.
Parties recommended the Electoral Commission increase voters per station to 1000 or 1500, to reduce the number of stations. However the Commission does not see the value in reducing the number of polling stations.
With 2468 polling stations, parties must recruit 7500 volunteers (3 per station in shifts), to observe the vote and the count.
This task cannot be done by one party alone. So in 2018, we are calling on our supporters, on all citizens, to volunteer to be a polling agent. We must each take responsibility for our vote, if the authorities cannot be trusted to do so.
Please contact us to volunteer. We will train all volunteers and you will be accredited to observe, monitor and audit, the coming elections. It is up to each of us to protect our vote and our elections.
The application form for those wishing to apply to volunteer as a Polling Agent is online here http://bit.ly/PollingAgentForm
Public Statements on Free and Fair Elections, Concerns about 2018 Election Preparations
31 August 2018: Concerns about lack of response from Electoral Commission : http://bit.ly/310818SLRLackECResponse
25 August 2018: Why we're losing confidence in the Electoral Commission and Supervisor of Elections http://bit.ly/SLRnoConfidenceEC250818
15 August 2018: Joint Communique SODELPA, NFP, FLP, Unity, PDP, Freedom Alliance: http://bit.ly/160818JointCommuniqueElections
2 October 2017: Call on FEO to visit more overseas locations to register Fiji citizens for voting: http://bit.ly/SLRoverseasVoterRegConcerns021017
6 August 2017: Call for independent audit of system developed by NADRA: http://bit.ly/Nadra060817
June 20, 2017: SODELPA concerned about appointment of Pakistan National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for FEO Elections Management System contract - http://bit.ly/Rabuka-FEO-Nadra
May 18, 2017 Submission by the five political parties (SODELPA, FLP, NFP, PDP, FUFP) to the Electoral Commission - http://bit.ly/fjElectoralRefomSubm
18 May 2017: Rabuka urges citizens to register to vote : http://bit.ly/RegisterToVote180517
10 March 2017: Opposition Parties call on Electoral Commission to be independent and operate without fear or favor : http://bit.ly/IndependentElectoralCommission100318
17 February 2017: Opposition Parties call for removal of Supervisor of Elections: http://bit.ly/170217RemoveSaneem
30 November 2016: Rabuka welcomes Appeal Court ruling on Supervisor of Elections, calls for Commission to review his performance http://bit.ly/AppealRulingSaneem30Nov17
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