Lifting of Suspension for SODEPLA

Statement by the Registrar of Political Parties

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Lifting of Suspension for SODELPA

FEO Media Centre – 29/06/20 –4.00pm

Lifting of Suspension for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA)

1. On 26 May 2020 I suspended the Social Democratic Liberal Party. You will note that I had required the officials of the suspended Party to carry out the following:

a. Provide the correct version of the Constitution of the Party to the Registrar
b. Comply with the High Court Ruling and re-submit the Audited Accounts for 2019; and
c. Make appropriate application under section 11 of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act 2013 for the appointment of a Registered Officer.

The Constitution

2. The Officials provided the Registrar with an agreed version of the Constitution on 16 June 2020. The Registrar was informed that the Constitution had been vetted by the Taskforce as well as by Hon. Adi Litia, the former General Secretary.

3. This Constitution formed the basis of the further activities of the suspended party as it attempted to remedy the breaches.

The 2019 Audited Accounts

4. The Registrar held a meeting with the Auditor of the Party as well as the officials of the Party on 24 June 2020. At this meeting the Auditor and the Officials confirmed to the Registrar that the Audit Reports would be prepared and handed to the Registrar following the Management Board Meeting on 27 June 2020.

5. The Audited Accounts of the Party was received by the Registrar on 29 June 2020 and this completes the second requirement for the suspension to be lifted.

Registered Officer

6. The Registrar acknowledges the Application by the Office Holders of the Party to appoint Ms. Emele Duituturaga as the Registered Officer of the Party.

7. It must be noted that similar application was made previously as follows:

a. On 04 May 2020, Application was made by the Party to appoint Adi Litia Qionibaravi as Registered Officer. This was not approved as the Party did not have Office Holders to form a ‘majority’ as required under the law.
b. On 26 May 2020, Application was made by the Party to appoint Ms. Emele Duituturaga as Registered Officer. This was not approved due to lack of compliance with the Constitution.
c. On 26 May 2020, Application was made to appoint Ms. Adi Litia Qionibaravi as Registered Officer. This was also not approved due to lack of compliance with the Constitution.
d. On 18 June 2020, Application was made by the Party to appoint Ms. Emele Duituturaga as the Registered Officer. This was not approved as it was not done according to the requirements of the Constitution of the Party.

8. On 18 June 2020, the Registrar, directed the Party to section 18.3.1 of its Constitution and required that the Party initiate the process as required under that section. The Registrar also clarified that it will not accept any application unless it follows the requirements of the Constitution citing various attempts to make appointments by various factions within the Party.

9. Section 18.3.1(a) of the Constitution states that “the General Secretary of the Party is also the Authorised and Registered Officer of the Party.

10. The process for appointment of General Secretary is governed by section 18.3.1 of the SODELPA Constitution. Section 18.3.1 states:

“The General Secretary shall be recruited under nationally recognized best practices on terms decided by the Management Board. He/She shall sign a Work Contract with the Management Board and shall deliver under a Performance Agreement to be signed with the Management Board.

[Emphasis added]

11. It must be noted from the Constitution of SODELPA that the Management Board does not have the powers to carry out direct appointment of the General Secretary nor does the Constitution provide for Acting appointments for General Secretary. The Constitution is clear on the process and the requirements that need to be met to appoint the General Secretary.

12. It is also evident that the Party does not already have Standard Operating Procedures or manuals to dictate the process under section 18.3.1. Various factions and candidates for the position seemed to have their own rules regarding this process. It is highly recommended that the Party prepares and published the rules under section 18.3 in the interests of transparency and good governance.

13. Today, the officials of the Party have presented another Application under section 11 of the Act to substitute the name of Ms. Emele Duituturaga as the Registered Officer of the Party.

14. The Officials also presented the Registrar’s Office with the signed Work Contract as well as Performance Agreement as required under the Constitution.

15. The Application is duly signed by the President – Vijay Singh, Vice Presidents – Ratu Apenisa Seru Cakobau and Mr. Jone Tevita Lesuma, and, Ms. Emele Duituturaga. The Party Leader did not sign the Application.

16. Prior to the receipt of the Application this morning, the Registrar received objections to the appointment from Mr. Pio Tabaiwalu, and Mr. Usaia Waqaitarewa, both of whom were also applicants for the position.

17. The Registrar obtained responses from the Officials on the correspondence received and thereafter made necessary enquiries to ascertain the facts. Following these enquiries, the Registrar formed the view that the General Secretary position in the Party is an employee position. The Party, as the employer will have to deal with the appeals and objections from unsuccessful candidates for the position.

18. The Registrar is independent and in this matter, Mr. Tabaiwalu and Mr.
Waqaitarewa may directly seek to invoke the grievance clause of the  Constitution or consider appropriate legal action.

19. It is noted that the Party Leader did not sign the Application, however, three (3) out of four (4) Office Holders did sign and this satisfies the requirements of section 11(2)(b) of the Act.

20. I approve the Application for Substitution of Ms. Emele Duituturaga’s name as Registered Officer of SODELPA.

Compliance with the Act

21. Since the Officials of the Party have complied with the requirements of the Registrar as listed above, the Party’s suspension is lifted with immediate effect.

22. The Secretary General of Parliament has also been notified accordingly.

Special General Meeting

23. The Party is required by the Constitution to convene an Annual General Meeting on or before 30 June of every year. Since that has not happened for 2020, the Party will be calling a Special General Meeting on 25 July 2020 at the Novotel Convention Centre in Lami.

SODELPA Suspension

Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

SODELPA Suspension

FEO Media Centre – 7 June 2020 – 4.30pm

Bula Vinaka Ladies and gentlemen

I would like to clarify some confusion in the media surrounding the events that led to the suspension of the Social Democratic Liberal Party. I’m here to correct the facts, and provide the public with the exact timeline that ultimately led to the decision to suspend the party. In the interests of transparency, I’d urge the media and anyone seeking to put forward an educated opinion on the matter to include this timeline in their reporting.

    • On 23 April 2020, the High Court delivered a decision in Civil Action No. HBC 269 of 2019.
    • The Registrar wrote to the Party Leader on 27 April 2020 to urge the Party to comply with the directives of the Court and at the same time the Register of Political Parties was amended in compliance with the Order of the Court.
    • On 27 April 2020, the Party was given 30 days to comply and at the same time furnish all the necessary documents as required by the law.
    • On 23 May 2020, there were 2 separate meetings of the SODELPA (in suspension) both claiming to be the legitimate Board Meetings. Both meeting organizers disputed the other meeting claiming lack of compliance with the Party Constitution.
    • On 25 May 2020, the first ‘Application to Substitute the Name of Registered Officer under section 11’ was filed with a List of Office Holders of the Suspended Party, which was disputed by Hon. Adi Litia Qionibaravi at 4:30pm the same day.
    • Later, on 25 May 2020, Hon. Adi Litia Qionibaravi submitted another ‘Application to Substitute the Name of Registered Officer under section 11’ was filed with a list of Office Holders of the Suspended Party.
    • On 26 May 2020, having found that there are various irregularities in the documents submitted such as lack of exact office holders within the Management Board of the Party, there being different versions of the Constitution of the Party, failure by the Officials to comply with the rules of the Party as explained in the decision I gave that day, the Party had to be suspended to ensure that it remedied the deficiencies.
    • The Suspended Party is currently in the process of remedying the defects.

Clearly, SODELPA (in suspension) was provided ample time, from the 27th of April, to comply with the decision of the court and furnish the necessary documents. However, they failed to do so. In the weeks that followed, it became clear the party was not in any position to take appropriate remedial action, as was well-documented by the media, leaving my office with no choice but to suspend the party. SODLEPA (in suspension) now has until the 27th of July to remedy their failures.

This timeline of events had been noted in my Media Statement on 26 May and there has been no dispute to the contrary. Given the considerable length of time provided to the Party to take corrective action, and the seriousness of their failures, it is simply not honest to paint this decision as abrupt or without precedent.

In fact, in arriving at my decision on 26 May 2020 I had clearly mentioned that:

Para 46:

“In National Federation Party v Supervisor of Elections, HBM 28 of 2016, the High Court in paragraph 18 held that the Registrar could simply notify the Party of the breach and require it to rectify it even though the law allowed the Registrar to suspend the Party. In compliance with the same, in this case, there was a 30-day timeframe given to SODELPA. This suspension action is taken following that period. In this case, the Party has not been able to resolve its issues and remedy the breach. The situation has worsened in fact.”

At this time it is important to ensure that the Party is allowed to rectify the breaches so that it may return to functioning under the law.

In a well-functioning democracy, strong institutions are empowered to respond appropriately and independently in enforcing their mandate. In this instance, the FEO acted in accordance with the law and past precedent, and took measures that matched the seriousness of the offence. We gave the suspended SODELPA every opportunity to “fix up their irregularities”, until “drastic measures” against them became absolutely necessary.

Ends.

Response to Mr Niko Nawaikula’s Social Media Post

Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Response to Mr Niko Nawaikula’s Social Media Post

FEO Media Centre- 1 June 2020 – 3.30pm

I would like to make a statement to respond to Mr Niko Nawaikula’s social media statement. This is because we have seen that Mr Nawaikula’s social media post has garnered significant attention from the public and we would like to respond to it.

First of all, I would like to point out that Mr Nawaikula has got the law wrong when he has suggested that the Supervisor of Elections is actually advising the Speaker. The Speaker of Parliament is an independent authority with a set of staff which has qualified legal professionals as well as constitutional mandated legal advice from various offices. As such it does not have to seek and it did not seek the advice of the Supervisor of Elections and this is an incorrect assumption by Mr Niko Nawaikula.

Mr Nawaikula has also incorrectly contended that even though the Social Democratic Liberal Party has been suspended, the Parliamentarians should have been afforded the opportunity to participate in Parliament. This is an incorrect assumption, both on fact and law.

I would like to clarify this by raising the following which are now significant features of the Fijian Electoral system:

1. Under the electoral system, nominations at the General Election are done by Political Parties using Party Lists. All candidates for the election by the Party are listed by order of preference in the Party List by the Party.
2. Once all the results are in, the SoE prepares the Final National Results Tally which contains the total number of votes achieved by each candidate listed in descending order within the Party.
3. The total votes received by the Party is used to determine if that Party has met the threshold of 5%.
4. If the Party has met the threshold, then the Electoral Commission determines the number of seats that the Party will occupy in Parliament. The Electoral Commission will then fill those seats from the candidates of the Party from the Final National Results Tally.

It is a Party based system. In the case of the suspended SODELPA, there are 21 seats and the 21 candidates who have received the highest number of votes from that Party are currently in Parliament, in suspension at the moment. Those Parliamentarians are in the Parliament representing their Party and cannot claim entitlement to the seat in Parliament personally. It is a Party Seat.

Therefore, as per the Political Parties Act, once the Party is suspended it cannot hold itself out or function as a Political Party. This would include its functions to be present in Parliament.

In the National Federation Party Suspension Case, the High Court in paragraph 21 of its ruling had upheld that the Registrar was correct in announcing that the Party could not operate, function, represent or hold itself out to be a Political Party. The Judge said “once a political party is suspended there is no such political party in existence before the law during the period of suspension and therefore it cannot operate as a Political Party…”

Since the party has not been de-registered yet, Mr., Nawaikula, in referring to section 20 of the Act, is rather putting the cart before the horse. Since there still remains significant time to remedy the contravention, going any further on the effects of section 20 is rather moot at this point.

At this time, ladies and gentleman, it is of paramount importance that officials in the suspended party act on remedying the breaches, if they have not done so till now, instead of making such poorly researched statements on social media. Having perused such statements, I am obliged to clarify the legal position and on the same note, I caution Mr. Nawaikula to seek proper legal advice before he produces such articles to mislead the public.

Two years to Earliest Potential Writ Day – Statement by EC Chair, Mr Suresh Chandra

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Mr Suresh Chandra

Suva – 09/03/2018

Bula Vinaka ladies and gentleman, and thank you for joining us.

I have a few announcements to make today but I would like to start by reminding everyone that tomorrow, we will be exactly two years away from a potential Writ Day.

26 May 2022 is the earliest date on which the Writ for the next General Election can be issued.

The next General Election is not far away and the Electoral Commission (EC) would like to address a few important matters as we head into pre-electoral preparations for the next election.

1. The Candidate’s Eligibility Requirements
We would like to remind potential candidates to be wary of their residential status if they are keen on meeting the candidate’s eligibility requirements in the next election.

Residency qualification, was an issue faced by several candidates in the 2014 and 2018 general elections.

The Electoral Act 2014, Section 23 (4) (c) states a person is eligible to be nominated as a candidate for election to Parliament only if the person is ordinarily resident in Fiji for at least 2 years immediately before being nominated.

If you are planning to contest in the next General Election, as per section 23 (5) of the Electoral Act, 2014 you will need to be in the country for an aggregate period of not less than 18 months out of the two years immediately after being nominated.

2. Ball draw for Ballot Papers
One year from now, the EC will be conducting a ball draw to select the first number that will appear on the Ballot Paper for the next General Election.

The numbers used in the 2018 General Election will not be used again.

The number draw is pursuant to Section 36(2) (c) of the Electoral Act 2014. The Act outlines that the Electoral Commission is required to approve the first, three-digit number of the Ballot Paper.

The conduct of a public draw promotes the principles of transparency which is essential to the electoral process.

3. Provisional Polling Venue List
In preparation for the next General Election, the FEO is publishing the List of Provisional Polling Venues it intends to use.

The Provisional List can be accessed through the FEO website.

The List currently contains 1,423 Polling Venues including Election Day and Pre-Poll venues. These are the same Polling Venues that were used in the 2018 General Election.

The FEO will conduct its verification process on the availability and suitability of those venues towards the end of this year.

In the 2018 General Election Joint Report, the EC had recommended FEO to propose a full list of venues at least two years prior to the first date the Writ can be issued.

The framework also requires that at least a three (months) consultation process is available for comments and suggestions from Political Parties and stakeholders in respect of those Polling Venues.

Hence, we are inviting interested individuals and stakeholders to provide FEO with feedback on these Polling Venues by using the Online Survey available on the Polling Venue Locator App at www.pvl.feo.org.fj.

4. Phasing out of VoterCard 1.0
I would also like to announce that the FEO has decided to extend the phasing out of VoterCard 1.0 or the green coloured VoterCard to 30 June 2021.

The decision was made considering the current COVID-19 crisis. We are in difficult times and as such we do not want to burden voters with having to rush and replace their VoterCards.

Therefore, voters who are still holding onto the green coloured VoterCard now have one more year to upgrade to VoterCard 2.0 or the blue coloured VoterCard.

5. Online Register for Political Parties
We are pleased to announce the launch of the Online Register for Political Parties.
In line with its 2020-2023 Strategic Plan, the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) has developed an Online Register of Political Parties, so any voter or member of the public requiring any information on Political Parties can access the register for the information they need.

Ladies and gentleman, allow me to show you the Online Register.

1. Go to the FEO website at www.feo.org.fj
2. Navigate to Political Parties menu under the Elections tab
3. Click on Political Parties Register

The online register has the name of the Party, the details of the Registered Officer, names of office holders and the date of registration.

Ladies and gentleman, I would like to conclude by saying that the FEO, under the guidance of the EC, has already kick-started pre-electoral preparations and we are going all out to ensure that every process pertaining to a successful General Election is carried out with the highest levels of quality and transparency.

 

Thank you very much for coming today.

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission – KYE Awareness Campaign Launch

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Mr Suresh Chandra

Know Your Election Awareness Campaign Launch

GPH – Suva – 14th March, 2018 – 9.00am

The Electoral Commission with the Supervisor of Elections at the unveiling of the Election Information Booklet

Fellow Electoral Commissioners, Representatives of the Diplomatic Corp, The Supervisor of Elections, Distinguished Invited Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Ladies and gentlemen, this morning, we launch a nationwide voter awareness campaign called ‘Know Your Election’ that will run for six weeks.

While we do not know the date of election yet, we want to be prepared ourselves and we want the voters to be educated and knowledgeable before a date is announced.

Voter education is a major contribution to electoral integrity. The ‘Know Your Election’ campaign will disseminate balanced, non-partisan and objective information on what voters need to know in order to exercise their right to vote.

The Fijian Elections Office has produced the Election Information Booklet which provides information on voters’ rights and obligations in the electoral process and explains the importance and process of voting.

Voters need to be educated about the electoral process to help them become an informed voter and every Fijian Voter should have at least perused through one Election Information Booklet before they reach the polling station.

At the least, we want the voter to have read page 17 which details how to mark a ballot paper correctly. That is either circle, or cross or tick one box on the ballot paper.

It is not just about the politics or the political rhetoric. It is about the voter independently being able to make a selection based on factual information.

It is about a voter knowing HOW TO DEAL with a ballot paper and HOW IMPORTANT THE DEAL with the ballot paper is before dropping it in the ballot box.

It is about dealing with the nervousness that comes around selection. It comes around the voters conscious and it is also about the voter thinking about the future.

The Vote that is cast on the day of elections matters for the next four years or maybe thereafter. But it is more crucial for those four years.

A vote that a voter casts on that day goes to a politician and political party but impacts the nation.

The Voter should not be threatened, intimidated or unduly influenced but rather should make a conscious decision based on their own analysis and preference.

No one should dictate to a voter how the preference should or can be made. There are many preferred ways but we are not going to get into that.

What we want to do is that once the Voter has made their mind they should have enough capacity to translate that thought or choice into the election result.

It is not for a politician for then to assume that – ‘yes this is a voter who is my son and walked into a polling station and he will voter for me’.

That is why we create such a systematic platform that once a voter is inside a polling station, they are devoid of any relationship, connection or bond.

They are able to walk to a cardboard voting screen, free from all the pressure and tension, directly with their ballot paper and themselves, mark their vote, fold their ballot paper, ink their finger and decide for the country.

That is what the voter does.

Inside a polling station is an atmosphere of calm, peacefulness, and quiet so that once the voter has decided to venture into making a decision for the country, no external factor can control the voter but the voters own thoughts and preferences.

Ladies and gentlemen, at the end of this campaign, registered voters, potential voters and members of the public should know;

  • The role of the Fijian Elections Office;
  • The role of the Electoral Commission;
  • The Electoral system;
  • About Voter registration;
  • About the Methods of voting;
  • About how the Counting of Ballot Papers is conducted;
  • About the Declaration of Results; and
  • About the Allocation of seats.

Before I conclude ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce that the Electoral Commission has set a theme for the election this year:

The 2018 General Election is a platform for Fijians to express their will with confidence, security and freedom.

To the people, we want you to know and understand that this is your election. Be confident when making a choice on the ballot paper. We will ensure you have no reason to feel insecure. And you are free to make your own decisions.

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyabadh.

…ends…

Know Your Election Awareness Campaign Launch – Mr Edwin Nand

Statement by Acting Director

Strategic Development and Communications

Mr Edwin Nand

Know Your Election Awareness Campaign Launch GPH

Suva – 14th March 2018 – 9.00am

Acting Director Strategic Development and Communications, Mr Edwin Nand

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Electoral Commissioners, Representatives of the Diplomatic Corp, The Supervisor of Elections, Distinguished Invited Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

Ladies and gentlemen, this morning, we would like to introduce to you the Election Information Booklet.

This Booklet is a vital resource for anyone who will be involved with the 2018 General Election and as such, we have printed 400,000 copies. Our intention is that every eligible voter should have their own copy by the end of the awareness drive.

Through our awareness teams, we will distribute the Election Information Booklet in every village, community, settlement and to schools students who are or will be eligible to vote in the 2018 General Election.

Taking into consideration the multi-cultural background of Fiji, we have translated the book into iTaukei, Hindi, Rotuman, Chinese and Banaban languages.

The Key focus areas of the Booklet are ‘How to Vote’, ‘Where to Vote’ and ‘When to Vote’. We urge all voters to get their copy, read it, learn about the electoral processes and be fully prepared come election time.

We prepared the booklet with the Fijian people in mind and we wanted it be accurate, apolitical and as informative as possible focusing on our electoral system.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Booklet will be inserted into the two newspapers this Saturday, we have electronic copies available at fijielects2018.org.fj/eib and they will be placed in all mailboxes and all our staff in all four Divisions will be out in the streets on Saturday, handing out the Booklets to every Fijian.

Ladies and gentlemen, I now present to you the 2018 Election Information Booklet.

Ends.

 

Know Your Election Awareness Campaign Launch – Mr Aisake Saukawa

 Statement by Voter Services Coordinator

Mr Aisake Saukawa

Know Your Election Awareness Campaign Launch

GPH – Suva – 14th March, 2018 – 9.00am

Voter Services Center Coordinator – Mr Aisake Suakawa

The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Electoral Commissioners, Representatives of the Diplomatic Corp, The Supervisor of Elections, Distinguished Invited Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

This morning, we launch this ‘2018 Know Your Election’ Awareness Campaign to educate and inform all Fijian Voters on the Electoral Process.

As such, we have developed this awareness campaign where FEO Voter Awareness Assistants will be visiting all communities, settlements and villages around the country.

During these visits, we aim to provide information on voters’ rights and obligations in the electoral process and explain the importance and process of voting.

Ladies and gentlemen, there will be 45 Voter Awareness teams which will consist of 3 VAA & a Driver per team. They have been trained and will be deployed from tomorrow, travelling quite extensively nation-wide for the next six weeks.

On display today before you ladies & gentlemen are the 3D model of a Polling Station, flipcharts, the Election Information Booklet and awareness material that will be used by the teams during the campaign.

The main tool which will be used to inform and educate voters is the Election Information Booklet which has been translated into the Hindustani, Chinese, Banaban, Itaukei & Rotuman languages so that Fijians all over the country are able to read and understand its content at their leisure.

We have targeted locations which are central to a community, settlement or village and have solicited the assistance of Turaga ni Koro’s, District Advisory Councilors and community leaders to inform their residents of this awareness session when our teams visit the locations. This information has already been disseminated to all communities through pocket meetings conducted by FEO Divisional Teams with DAC members and Turaga Ni Koro and using the wider network of Provincial Council office and Provincial Administrators/District Officers office. This information has also been advertised in the newspaper and will be circulated widely on all media platforms available. FEO will continue to advertise the Awareness Schedule on a weekly basis for the next 6 weeks.

Ladies and gentlemen, we will be starting our campaign tomorrow and in doing so adhering to the roll out strategy of “Rural to Urban Approach”.

This awareness campaign is an apolitical exercise simply concerned with informing voters and potential voters to make an informed decision when they turn up to a polling station to mark their ballot paper.

Ladies and gentlemen, during this campaign, our teams will also provide Voter Services so if you have not registered yet, do not worry, we will come to you and you can register.

If you have lost or misplaced your VoterCard and need replacement cards or need to change details on your Card, we encourage you to inform our team and they will assist you.

There will also be surveys would be conducted and then analyzed to determine the strengths, weaknesses and learning outcomes of the Know Your Election Awareness Campaign.

In conclusion I wish to mention FEOs heartfelt appreciation to all stakeholders who have contributed in many ways to the pre-roll out planning exercise and we look forward to getting this message as wide and as far as possible, to every Fijian nationwide.

Thank you very much and Vinaka Vakalevu.

…ends…

Voting Screen Handover – Statement by EC Chair, Mr Suresh Chandra

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Mr Suresh Chandra

Voting Screen Handover

Suva – 09/03/2018

The CEO of New Zealand Electoral Commission,

The New Zealand High Commissioner,

My fellow Electoral Commissioners

Distinguished invited guests

Ladies and Gentlemen

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very warm welcome to you all.

Thank you very much for accepting our invitation. May I also take this opportunity to warmly welcome our guest from New Zealand.

Alicia – Welcome to Suva.

Ladies and gentlemen, this morning we have the pleasure to host the Chief Electoral Officer from New Zealand. It is very humbling to see Alicia take time out from her very busy schedule and visit us to officially hand over the Cardboard Voting Screens to the Fijian Elections Office.

We have already received 15,015 voting screens properly packed in boxes and protective plastic. Each polling station will receive 1 box which is made up of 4 ‘pizza boxes’ and 1 disability friendly voting screen.

There have been a few tweaks to the cardboard screens to prepare for wet environment. We have a proper sustainability plan for them as well so we can use the same for future elections.

Since the polling station setup in the 2018 General Election will be the same as the 2014 General Election, we are sure voters will find greater comfort in exercising their right.

As we prepare to conduct the second General Election under the 2013 Constitution, the Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office are thankful for all the support from our partner agencies.

Support, through donations – either monetary terms, in kind, technical expertise or any form of assistance, will not only contribute towards our operations but towards the development of our country as a whole.

Ladies and gentlemen, we want the 2018 General Election to be a platform for Fijians to express their will with confidence, security and freedom. In fact, the Electoral Commission has adopted this as our theme heading into the polls – and we are committed to ensuring that it is translated into action.

We are confident that the support we have received from New Zealand will greatly contribute towards realizing our goals.

Last year ladies and gentlemen, the Electoral Commission and the FEO participated in the New Zealand Electoral Commission 2017 Election Visitor Program for the 2017 New Zealand Elections.

That was a good learning experience for the Commission and a great opportunity to observe first-hand the conduct of an election in New Zealand.

It allowed us to see the processes involved, the organization and landscape of conducting events during an election from a different perspective. We are thankful to the New Zealand Electoral Commission for facilitating our visit last year.

With those few words ladies and gentlemen, I thank you all for your attendance.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

Voting Screen Handover – Vote of Thanks

Vote of Thanks by the Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Voting Screen Handover

Suva – 09/03/2018

The CEO of New Zealand Electoral Commission,

Chairperson and members of the Electoral Commission

The New Zealand High Commissioner,

Distinguished invited guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bula Vinaka to you all.

Today I would like to start by once again thanking Alicia for accepting our invitation. It is a pleasure to have you in Fiji. We were certainly looking forward to have the Chief Electoral Officer from New Zealand arrive in Fiji before the 2018 General Election.

It’s always encouraging for my team to receive a personality from another electoral management body, a much larger and established electoral management body.

It is always a boost for our morale as well as for the energy in the office to be in your company. So once again, welcome to the Fijian Elections Office.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the New Zealand assistance to the 2014 General Election was considerable. We had several Technical Advisors on the ground here at the FEO and they helped develop and manage so many processes to allow us to run a credible election.

In 2014, New Zealand also provided us with these cardboard voting screens. That was the first time in Fiji, voters voted in an open and conducive environment rather than tall wooden triangular structures covered behind curtains. I believe an open polling station where one can see everything going on was the first appreciation of the high level of voter satisfaction in 2014.

Immediately after the review and reporting phase in 2014, the New Zealand Electoral Commission invited us to Wellington for a series of discussions and familiarization programs with the operations of the NZEC and elections in New Zealand generally.

Significant discussions took place on our plans for the next 4 years and how the FEO was planning to develop capacity and its systems and processes to enhance electoral practices in the country.

I had many many plans and the visit allowed me to visualize many of them for Fiji. There was no going backwards from there, it was only forward, only better, more efficient and with a bit of Fijian flavor.

We secured a 5 year support and assistance program for the Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office. This comprehensive support program allowed the FEO to access capacity building programs through study visits, election visitor programs, regional events collaboration and also technical support to allow us direct access to experienced, skilled election professionals nearly one a week.

Ladies and gentlemen, these elections professionals are committed and dedicated individuals that work very closely with our staff together as a family.

We haven’t had a situation where someone says to us that ‘I’m just a consultant’, and we are proud of that. Our Technical Advisors have always ensured that they mix around with the staff, provide the necessary guidance and at the same time provide that level of expectations that staff make sure that delivers the requirements.

To assist with the 2018 General Election, we asked if the NZEC could once again assist us with the Cardboard Voting Screens and they humbly agreed.

I am sure that on Election Day in Fiji, Fijian voters will see the white cardboard voting screens in every Polling Station they visit.

A special appreciated to the New Zealand Electoral Commission as well in terms of the design that they have for they cover for persons with disability or for person who cannot get to a voting screen.

There is a disability friendly voting screen that can be taken outside the polling station and placed on the lap of a voter or on a table outside incase the voter cannot come in.

This is a very inclusive design and we are greatly appreciative of the sharing that the New Zealand Electoral Commission has done with us and every box that you see, has one disability friendly voting screen. So every polling station will have that voting screen to assist with voting for persons with disabilities particularly for those who cannot come inside.

I would like to thank all our guests who have accepted our invitation and are in attendance at this event. We look forward to your continued participation in our future events.

I would like to thank the New Zealand Government for its interest in developing electoral capacity in Fiji. The support program has indeed been positive for both our country and the team here at the FEO.

I would also like to thank Alicia, Diedre, Robert, and the team at NZEC for their continued commitment and dedication to this program. We are proud of the friends we have made in the last 4 years.

Thank you Alicia once again for your visit and we hope you enjoy your short stay with us and thank you for the voting screens.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

Election Officials Contract Signing Ceremony

Statement by Director Corporate Services

Mr Sanjeshwar Ram

Election Officials Contract Signing Ceremony

10am, FEO HQ

Fellow Department Directors

The Invited guest

Fellow colleagues

Members of the media

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this very important function today.  A very special welcome to the 14 Election Officials.

Today is indeed a significant day for the FEO since you will witness the contract signing of the first batch of the Election Officials for 2 polling stations.

The recruitment drive began in August last year Fiji wide in two phases. The recruitment was conducted through a computer based test. In order to deliver the 2018 General election successfully, the FEO needed around 12,000 election officials. At the conclusion of the recruitment drive the FEO had secured 17,016 applicants.

The positions available for the 2018 General Elections include Presiding Officers, Assistant Presiding Officers, Polling Day Workers and Venue Queue Controllers.

Training has also been conducted for those who were successful in their applications. I am pleased to inform you that as of yesterday, we have trained 11,092 applicants as Election Officials and 3,708 as Presiding and Assistant Presiding Officers.

There have been issues faced during this process. We still have over 500 Elections Officials who have not been paid their $45 training allowance due to incorrect bank details and unavailability of tax identification numbers (TIN).

Efforts to contact these applicants have been futile as their mobile phones were diverted. We have over 1,400 Election Officials who have attended the PO and APO training and have yet to be paid their $75 allowances due to lack of information supplied such as bank details, FNPF numbers and TIN.

We are in the process of contacting these applicants to furnish us with these documents however, we are hindered because their mobile phones are diverted.

Over 800 Election Officials who are eligible for training could not be contacted.

Details of these category of applicants will be posted on the FEO website and Facebook page. Applicants who fall in this category are urged to visit the nearest Fijian Elections Office and provide us with these documents or call us on Toll free number 1501.

Please note that those who fail to submit these important documents, won’t be considered for any Election Official position for the 2018 General Election.

The FEO has now successfully allocated 1,312 polling stations.

We are now in the process of printing contracts and distributing them to the respective Divisional Offices for signing by the applicants. This process starts today and will continue until 23 March, 2018. Successful applicants will be receiving an SMS on their mobile phones advising them of the time and venue to sign their contracts.

Those who failed to meet our Election Officials selection criteria, will also be informed in the next 2 weeks that their applications have been unsuccessful.

For those of you who will be signing contracts from today, it is important to know that if you change your address or any other personal details, you must inform the nearest FEO office as soon as possible.

We will need this information to confirm that you are assigned to an appropriate polling venue on Election Day and to ensure that there are no hiccups in payment following the end of your contract.

On behalf of the Supervisor of Elections I wish to congratulate all of you who have been successful in your application for the various positions. Now the focus will be on you to work very closely with the FEO in order to deliver a successful and credible election.

And do remember that the 2018 General Election is a platform for the Fijians to express their will with confidence, security and freedom.

Vinaka.

FEO Directors with Confirmed Election Officials for 2018 General Elections

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