Government Advice to the Fiji Times
The Fiji Times has asked of Government questions pertaining to the voter registration and election process that amount to wondering why we are not “doing it like last time.” If it is not plainly evident, the last time failed.
Despite having such things as an “Independent Electoral Commission" and an "independent" Supervisor of Elections, the 2006 elections were subject to anomalies, lack of transparency and rife with mismanagement. Many of these issues are detailed in the European Union Election Observation Mission report. These include but are not limited to: flawed registration processes; lack of integrity in the electoral roll; inappropriate allocation of polling stations and ballot boxes; high levels of invalid votes; no recount of some close votes; and even a 101 percent voter turnout in one constituency.
Fijians, and in particular the Fijian media, should not be looking to precedent as perfection. It was not. Just like the purported democracy Fiji experienced before, processes for the previous elections were “independent” or “transparent” in name only.
The Bainimarama Government’s approach to, for example, voter registration has taken into account many considerations—in particular the EU report—and is designed to ensure we have in place an enduring system that advances transparent processes under the principle of common and equal citizenry.
Indeed, to further this objective the Bainimarama Government has agreed to discuss these matters with a UN Needs Assessment Team, which will be in the country in a few weeks time.
The Fiji Times instead of trying to create disquiet, politicise every issue, and undermine the modern and progressive systems and agenda being implemented, should be future-focused, intellectually robust and honest, and pro-Fiji.