Reforms for Elections Office

Elenoa Baselala in the Fiji Times
Friday, July 15, 2011

THE deputy Supervisor of Elections Soro Toutou has been reassigned to the Public Services Commission.
Justice permanent secretary and Solicitor General Christopher Pryde is now overseeing the operations of the Elections Office, confirmed PSC permanent secretary Parmesh Chand. Mr Chand said Mr Toutou has been transferred to assist the commission in the ongoing civil service reforms.

He said the Elections Office had enough resources and was being reorganised.  Mr Chand said the office may have enhanced capacities in the future. "Mr Pryde now takes supervisory role of the office," he said.

Reforms include abolishing the communal representation system as provided for under the Constitution and the Electoral Act 1998, and replacing it with a common roll system.

Another key action is to establish a fair system of voting so that "all the interests and wishes of the people of Fiji can be represented in the Parliament as expressed through free, fair and honest elections". This is through an Open List Proportional Representation (PR) Electoral and Voting System.

Ed. note.
Progress towards elections is good news, even if it only concerns the  Elections Office. But I think many readers  will share my concern about other details in the press release.  While it is true the People's Charter, that had the support of over 60% of the adult population, recommended the abolition of communal seats and the introduction of an open list PR system, these matters still need to be part of the  promised inclusive dialogue on constitutional and electoral reform.  The interim Government must not preempt discussion by stating what will be.

Several related matters also need to be addressed. For example,  abolishing communal voting may leave small ethnic groups without any representation. Their interests will need to be protected either in the Ministry of Multi-Ethnic Affairs, in separate councils, such as the Rotuma Council, in Senate or in some other forum. And while proportional representation is clearly the way to go, the implications of the open list system still need debate.  As does the number, composition and size of electorates.

Government's announcement of these new electoral responsibilities seems an excellent time to start using the the media to inform the public about electoral intentions and recommendations. Informed articles and broadcasts, and letters to the editor and talkback programmes, would be more than a demonstration of democracy in action; it would be an important step towards fulfilling  Pillar 9 of the Charter by making  elections a product of a knowledge-based society.


Anonymous said…
Give up Croz, there will be no inclusive dialogue. This government just does not believe in it.

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