06/12/17

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                              For Immediate Release

The Registrar of Political Parties, Mohammed Saneem, has this afternoon refused the application for registration by the ‘proposed Zionist Party.’

Mr. Saneem outlined that following the verification of members exercise, it was found that the application failed to meet the required numbers for Central and Western Divisions.

“The application only had 1880 members out of the required 2000 for Central and 1633 members out of the required 1750 for the Western Division.”

Mr. Saneem further stated that the Constitution of the proposed party also did not meet the minimum requirements for the Political Parties as per the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act, 2013.

 -Ends-

Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

Yesterday, (23/11/17), the Fijian Elections Office [FEO] conducted a briefing for the international community on the preparations as at now leading up to the 2018 General Election.

Heads of Missions and senior representatives attended this briefing which was opened by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mr Suresh Chandra.

In welcoming the guests Mr Chandra remarked that “since this is the first time in Fiji’s history where a rather properly resourced election management body has been in place, it is ideal for us to talk elections and election preparation progress 1 month before the election year proper”.

“Notably, there is a high level of interest in elections in any country – particularly from its friends, development partners and international and regional bodies. Fiji is no different and we feel privileged to be the ones to see this process through,” Mr Chandra said.

The Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem, presented at the briefing on key components of the election preparations.

Specific topics such as ongoing voter registration, election operations framework, election staffing and training requirements, political party interactions and capacity building, as well as technological and ICT enhancements were covered.

The FEO also shared some of its strategies in approaching voter awareness for the 2018 General Election.

Mr Saneem conveyed to the 53 representatives that it was the intention of the FEO to be election ready on the 01 April, 2018.

The briefing was attended by representatives from Australia, New Zealand, United States, China, India, Japan, Korea, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Malaysia, South Africa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, European Union, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the United Nations.

 -Ends-

Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Mr Suresh Chandra

Handover of Touch Screen Voting Machine and Equipment for Server Room

Suva – 23rd November, 2017 – 10:00am

 

The Director General of A-WEB, Mr Seongbae Kang, The Korean Ambassador to Fiji, Mr Kim Seong-in; KOICA Country Director, Ms Hyunwon Kim; Fellow Electoral Commissioners; The Supervisor of Elections; Distinguished guests.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very warm welcome to the Fijian Elections Office.

I would like to specially extend a warm welcome to our distinguished guests from the Association of World Election Bodies [A-WEB] based in Incheon, Korea.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we all know technology plays a very important role in our everyday lives. The first thing that many of us do in the morning is look at our mobile phones.

Whether it is for turning off alarms; checking the time or to read the daily news even before holding the newspaper. Apart from smartphones, most of our daily activities involve the usage of technology such as laptops, tablets, e-ticketing machines and the list continues.

Ladies and gentlemen, the use of information and communication technologies in the electoral process is something that we should not be afraid of. The introduction of ICT in elections is generating both interest and concern among the people around the world.

Today most Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs) in the world use new technologies with the aim of improving the electoral process. The appropriate application of technology to elections can increase administrative efficiency, reduce long term costs and enhance political transparency.

Ladies and gentlemen, while I can confirm that we will not be using any electronic voting systems in the 2018 General Election, it does not mean we cannot try it anywhere else.

Today we will receive 53 touchscreen voting machines from AWEB which will be used for Trade Union Elections in the country as well as elections for the University Student Bodies.

The FEO conducts up to 100 elections for Trade Unions in the country and these machines are specifically for use in these elections. In fact, the FEO has conducted more than 200 elections for trade unions to date since 2014.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is just a mere opportunity for just us to explore what technologies are there in elections so that we can test it on small scale elections.

We believe in the ability of the Touch Screen Voting machine to simplify the election processes and minimize cost while at the same time give Fijians the opportunity to experience voting as they would in the Republic of Korea, Estonia, Australia, Belgium, India and the United States to name a few.

The use of Touch-screen Voting Machines means that small scale elections can be conducted much quicker, with more efficiency, fewer resources and less manpower while still delivering high standards.

We understand that there are more than 25000 registered members of trade unions but the impact of that experience should be multiplied 5 times because in Fiji we have grog bowl discussions and we expect the topic of trade unions to be discussed around grog bowls.

This is a very high level of outreach that we tend to obtain by simply introducing a new gadget in the voting process. Whilst I reiterate that the 2018 General Election will not have any electronics involved, the Electoral Commission welcomes the FEOs futuristic approach in exploring what’s out there in the market and ensuring that Fiji is not left behind in this age of information enhancement.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is just one of the many examples of how the FEO is committed to the theme, ‘Raising the Standards in the Delivery of Elections in Fiji’, set out by the Commission.

To A-WEB, I extend my sincere thanks for your assistance and contribution towards the development of this country as a whole and I look forward to more collaborations in the future.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attendance to witness this historic handover.

Thank you very much or as they say in Korean, Gam-sah-amnida.

The Fijian Elections Office has concluded the 2017 Overseas Voter Registration Drive with only Nauru, the United Kingdom and the East Coast of the United States left to be covered before the end of the year.

The FEO teams covered Canada, the West Coast of the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Marshall Islands, Malaysia and Korea from October 3 and November 6, 2017.

Teams were sent directly to these countries so that they could carry out registrations at key events organized by the Fijian communities mostly surrounding the Fiji Day celebrations.

Whilst there were certain difficulties that were faced by the teams including but not limited to lack of passports or unavailability of the exact requirements for registration, we still managed to register a total of 696 new voters.

The FEO also during these exercises managed to provide voter election services to up to 2900 Fijians.

A breakdown is provided below:

COUNTRY

NEW REGISTRATIONS

CORRECTIONS REPLACEMENT ENQUIRIES TOTAL ENGAGEMENT
Canada 13 11 3 72 99
United States of America 274 245 36 331 886
New Zealand 212 184 102 469 967
Australia 159 178 41 358 736
Marshall Islands 16 51 0 55 122
Malaysia 8 18 0 35 61
Korea 14 7 5 3 29
TOTAL 696 694 187 1323 2900

During the Pacific Islands Countries Registration Drive, a total of 1060 voters were serviced in Tonga, Kiribati, Cook Islands, Tuvalu, American Samoa, Western Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Australia.
Teams were also sent to the Pacific Island Countries between March 17 and May 16, 2017 to ensure that Fijian in our neighboring nations are able to register to cast their vote.

Voter Services to these countries included 616 new registrations, 405 corrections to details and 39 obtained the replacement Voter2.0 Card.

A breakdown is provided below:

COUNTRY

NEW REGISTRATIONS

CORRECTIONS REPLACEMENT TOTAL ENGAGEMENT
Tonga 155 25 6 186
Kiribati 27 10 6 43
Cook Islands 174 124 0 298
American Samoa 124 70 1 195
Western Samoa 53 22 11 86
Vanuatu 31 41 5 77
PNG 17 72 10 99
Solomon Islands 4 9 0 13
Tuvalu 9 32 0 41
Australia 22 0 0 22
TOTAL 616 405 39 1060

Director Operations Anaseini Senimoli in her remarks mentioned that despite the fact that we continued a lot awareness since last year, some members of the community were not able to bring all the required documents and we were not able to register them.

“Any person who wishes to still register may have to now do so in Fiji as registration overseas is not likely to be conducted until later next year,” she said.

Persons who will be voting by post will need to wait for the announcement of the Election date to register for Postal Voting.

The FEO would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other stakeholders for their assistance in the coordination of logistics and other facilitation in host countries.

-Ends-

Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

20th  November, 2017

The Director of Operations for the Fijian Elections Office, Ms. Anaseini Senimoli participated as an observer at the recent Tongan National Election for the Pacific Islands Forum.

“It was an exciting opportunity for me to observe the Tongan National Election especially since we are in preparation mode for our election next year.” explains Ms. Senimoli.

In welcoming the Director’s participation, Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem said election observations and visitor programs assist greatly in building capacity and always has a positive impact on the FEO.

Tonga National Election was conducted on 16 November 2017.

The FEO has so far attended Election observation programs in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

The FEO has also participated in election visitor programs in the Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Australia and the United States.

-Ends-

Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

The KINGDOM OF TONGA

NATIONAL PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION

16 NOVEMBER 2017

INTERIM STATEMENT

Hon Margaret Wilson DNZM

Chair of the Commonwealth Observer Group

Saturday 18 November 2017

NUKU’ALOFA

“We congratulate the Kingdom of Tonga for participating peacefully and in numbers in their national election to decide their leaders in the next Parliament.”

The Commonwealth Observer Group was invited here by the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga. Since our arrival on 9 November, we have been warmly welcomed by everyone we have met. Before the election, we met with the Prime Minister and members of his Cabinet, the Speaker of Parliament, representatives of the Nobles of the Realm, the Electoral Commission, candidates, civil society groups, women and youth groups, Tonga Media Council, and members of the diplomatic corps.

Members of our Group were deployed to Vava’u, Ha’apai, and here in Tongatapu to observe the poll, count and declaration of results. We have collaborated and worked closely with the observers from the Pacific Islands Forum, who were present in Tongatapu and ‘Eua.

I was privileged to observe the process where the Nobles of the Realm elected their nine representatives to Parliament. This is a unique constitutional arrangement in the Kingdom and a process outlined in Tonga’s electoral laws.

This is the Group’s Interim Statement, providing an outline of our key observations and findings.

Key Interim Findings

General summary

The Commonwealth Charter “recognises the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live.” We congratulate the Kingdom of Tonga for turning out in numbers to exercise their democratic right. The election was conducted in a peaceful environment and the voters demonstrated a good understanding and trust in the process. We found the election was conducted in accordance with Tonga’s national laws and the results reflected the wishes of the people.

The Group noted that this was the third election held under the amended Constitution 2010, as part of Tonga’s democratic reforms. We further noted that this election was conducted a year earlier than anticipated, following His Majesty, King Tupou VI’s decision to invoke Clause 38 of the Constitution to dissolve Parliament on 25 August 2017.

We encourage the incoming Government, the members of Parliament and all stakeholders to continue working together to strengthen the Kingdom’s democratic processes and engage in dialogue to clarify constitutional issues that would deepen the Kingdom’s democracy and promote the rule of law.

Preparations and election campaign

The Group acknowledged and commended the work of the Electoral Commission in preparing the country’s election with short notice following His Majesty’s decision.

The Group observed campaigning in Tongatapu ahead of the 16 November election. Many candidates chose to promote their campaigns through the use of posters and with campaign ‘floats’- large convoys of candidates’ supporters – which added a spirited and unique flair to the environment.

The Group commended the media for the positive role it played in creating awareness about election issues and the campaign. While some interlocutors raised access to the media as a potential issue, it appeared that campaigning was lively and competitive, and candidates were generally able to convey their campaign messages to the public.

We welcomed a large number of women candidates that contested the election. We convey our sincere congratulations to the two female candidates who won their seats in Tongatapu and Vava’u, marking the first time two women will be represented in the Legislative Assembly concurrently. We encourage the women in Tonga to continue to participate in elections and pursue greater representation in the National Parliament.

Polling

The Group was impressed with the high level of professionalism, integrity and efficiency displayed by polling officials, many of whom were women, during the election. These officials appeared well trained and ensured the polling process was well organised and that voters were able to cast their votes in an orderly manner.

Voters appeared to have a solid understanding of polling procedures and exercised their franchise in a calm and positive atmosphere. The Group was pleased to see a high turn-out of women voters at the election, as well as elderly and disabled voters who were assisted by the polling officials where necessary to ensure they were able to cast their votes.

We commended the support provided by the police, fire and correctional service personnel to the polling teams in all the constituencies we observed. Their presence contributed to the peaceful environment that enabled the people to exercise fully their democratic rights in the country’s political process. The Group also welcomed the role that Town Officers and other local community leaders played in supporting polling teams in their task.

The Group recognised that none of the candidates had agents or scrutineers during the poll and count. This is a testament to the trust and confidence the people of Tonga have in their electoral process.

Count and declaration of results

The Group found the count to be efficient and methodical. Consideration could be given to make the count more transparent by allowing the voters to observe the process.

The result in each polling station was made public immediately after the completion of the count. Ballot boxes were then returned to the district offices and a final result was announced later in the evening by the Electoral Commission.

Conclusion

We will finalise our report over the next two days and this will include the Group’s conclusion and set of recommendations for consideration to strengthen the country’s electoral process.

Our report will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary- General who will, in turn, submit it to the Government of Tonga, the Electoral Commission, Speaker of Parliament and other key stakeholders in the country.

The Commonwealth’s long-standing commitment to Tonga’s democracy and development will continue. The Kingdom’s constitution has unique features which recognises its social, cultural and political structures. I encourage all citizens and the elected leaders from this election to continue working together in strengthening the Kingdom’s democracy.

We note the process of forming the Government will commence shortly following the full declaration of results. We congratulate the Kingdom of Tonga on a successful election and convey our sincerest appreciation and best wishes to His Majesty King Tupou VI, the Nobles of the Realm, the incoming Government and the people. It has been a privilege to lead this Group of Commonwealth observers to the Kingdom’s national parliamentary election.

Nuku’alofa

18 November 2017

7040 applicants have successfully completed the first phase of training as part of the Election Officials recruitment process for the Fijian Election Office [FEO].

The first phase involves a half day training conducted by the Fijian Electoral Education Centre [FEEC].

 

Training is being conducted in all four Divisions with the breakdown as follows:

Division
Northern – 926

Central – 3626

Western – 2288

Eastern – 200

The FEO has intensified training in recent weeks and as of 14th November, 2017 there remain 5061 persons who are yet to be trained.

“These numbers will drop further as we progress with training and continuously update our System. With training sessions scheduled 3 times a day from Tuesday to Saturday every week, the FEO is confident that all successful applicants will be catered for in the coming weeks” said Director Corporate Services Sanjeshwar Ram.

“However, I urge applicants to ensure that their details submitted to the FEO are accurate. We have had instances where our training team has been unable to reach individuals because their mobile phones aren’t working.”

Mr Ram adds there are currently about 400 applicants who cannot be reached for confirmation of training, and they need to call 1501 or email eofficials@feo.org.fj to update their contact details. This is vital for individuals to confirm whether they have been selected for Election Officials half day training.

The FEO would also like to remind applicants who have attended training that they need to submit the following details: FNPF account number, Tax Identification Number and current active bank account details.

These details are necessary to process payment of allowances for persons who have attended the half day training.

Details for Round 2 of the Recruitment Drive will be announced in due course.

ENDS.

Please forward all media queries to the FEO Communications team at communications@feo.org.fj

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will deploy a Commonwealth Observer Group to observe general elections in Tonga, scheduled for 16 November 2017. This follows a formal invitation from the Government of Tonga.

In August 2017, King Tupou VI invoked Clause 38 of the Constitution to dissolve Tonga’s Legislative Assembly, and called for fresh elections to be held in November, more than a year before the planned date for the next elections.

“These elections are crucial for the people of Tonga as it strengthens the democratic process in the Kingdom,” said Secretary-General Scotland. “The Commonwealth observers will observe the elections and work closely with the observers from the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat in supporting Tonga’s democracy, national election and sharing best practice.”

Margaret Wilson, former Speaker of Parliament and Attorney-General of New Zealand, will lead the Commonwealth Observer Group.  The group will consider the pre-electoral environment, the poll, the count and declaration of results.

As with all Commonwealth Observer Groups, it will function with impartiality and independence, and will conduct itself according to the standards set out in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.

The Group will submit its final report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn share it with the Government of Tonga, the Tongan Electoral Commission, Speaker of Parliament, relevant civil society organisations and eventually with all Commonwealth governments and the public.

The Commonwealth Observer Group will be in Tonga from 9 to 20 November 2017.

Observer Group members:

Hon Margaret Wilson DNZM (Chairperson)
Former Speaker of Parliament
Former Attorney General,
Professor of Law
New Zealand

Mr Mohammed Saneem
Supervisor of Elections
Fiji

Mr Joseph Cain
Electoral Commissioner
Nauru

Ms Lomcebo Dlamini
Human Rights Lawyer
Swaziland

The Commonwealth Observer Group is supported by three-person Commonwealth Secretariat staff team led by Mr Albert Mariner.

Media contacts

Tonga
L. Albert Mariner
Head of Asia, Caribbean, Pacific Section,
Political Team, GPD
Commonwealth Secretariat
Tel: +676 886 0141
Email: a.mariner@commonwealth.int

London
Barnie Choudhury
Director, Media and Public Relations
Commonwealth Secretariat
Tel:  +44 20 7747 6382
Email:  b.choudhury@commonwealth.int

Source: http://thecommonwealth.org/media/press-release/commonwealth-observe-general-elections-tonga

Statement by Supervisor of Elections

Mr Mohammed Saneem

Tender for Election Material and Services

03rd November, 2017

The Fijian Elections Office will be advertising second round of its election material and services procurement in tomorrow’s newspapers in line with its 2018 General Election preparation plans.

Tenders are invited for the following materials and services:

  1. Ballot Paper Printing
  2. Postal Voting Courier Services
  3. Supply of Polling Station Sheds

Expression of interest for supply of motor vehicles is also being advertised.

The FEO understands that some of these materials and services will require our suppliers to place their own material order overseas to be able to meet the quantity and specifications that we require.

Some of these materials may take significant time to arrive in Fiji. Some services may also need thorough planning with the FEO and thus the need to advertise and confirm the suppliers early.

The FEO also needs to ensure that it has confirmation from suppliers in terms of their ability to deliver at notice following the announcement of Election date. Advertising early will allow the FEO to verify the capacities of its suppliers to ensure that the election time plans are not affected.

I would like to touch on some specs for the tenders:

Ballot Paper Printing

The FEO will require the successful tenderer to demonstrate the ability to print, bind and supply ballot papers as per the plan. At the moment the FEO anticipates we may have approximately 630,000 voters.

Ballot papers for the next general election should have atleast 3 security features, bound in books of 50 ballots papers per book and each book is to be uniquely numbered to track the book.

Our Suppliers must have sufficient capacity to operate and deliver approximately 750,000 not exceeding 800,000 ballot papers with 12 days. Additional information is available on the FEO website.

Postal Voting Courier Services

For the 2018 General Election, the FEO has divided the globe into 4 regions in an attempt to streamline the distribution and return of Postal Ballots. It is noted that there may be companies that specialize in some of these regions while there are some that look at distribution worldwide.

The regions are as follows:

  • Local Fiji
  • Pacific Islands
  • Australia & New Zealand
  • Rest of the world

Supply of Polling Station Sheds

The FEO estimates it will require approximately 160 Polling Stations that will be in Sheds. These may be locations that do not have adequate facilities to be used as polling stations or where there are more voters than the available space at a venue.

This time we would like suppliers to provide a 7m x7m shed with side covers including 10 chairs and 3 tables. Also a Porta-loo as well as atleast 2 x 4ft Tube lights and 2 power outlets. We prefer that suppliers bid for all these items as a package.

Expression of Interest for Supply of Vehicles

Total 4×4

  • 115 for Election Day
  • 110 for Pre-poll
  • 45 for awareness

3 Tonne –

  • 100 for election day

5 Tonne –

  • 15

The FEO wishes to advise that in accordance with s13 of the Electoral Act, all suppliers and contractors of the FEO must remain apolitical and must not engage in any political or campaign activity whilst engaged by the FEO.

All tenders by the FEO will be scrutinized by a duly constituted Tender Committee who may require additional information or inspection of the capacities of the suppliers. Bidders are requested to ensure that the Committee has received necessary access to all required information.

Interested person must only contact the secretariat and we reserve the right to reject any tenders from bidders who may attempt to contact other FEO personnel.

The FEO duly considers value for money, quality and capacity and it is not necessary that we award the tender to the lowest bid.

Tenders close on 8 December 2017 at 4 pm.

ENDS.

Statement by Supervisor of Elections
Mr Mohammed Saneem
01st November 2017
Political Campaigning Framework

Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen

Thank for your attendance.

As you are aware, the Writ for the 2018 General Election may be issued any time after 6 April 2018. Effectively, we may be 6 months away from the issue of Writ for the next General Election.

As such, as is obvious, we are now witnessing increased political campaign activities around the country. We are witnessing increased mobilization of political figures as well as seminars and related events by political parties and their nominees.

Political campaign messages and promises are also becoming prominent in the media, both official media as well as social media. It is expected that Political Parties, their nominees and workers will intensify their messaging in the coming months to garner support from the voters. Care must be taken particularly on social media to avoid vilification of religion or invasion of private space of individuals.

It has therefore become important for the Fijian Elections Office to remind the Political Parties, nominees of Political Parties, their workers as well as

prospective candidates to adhere to the Electoral Act, the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Act and the Code of Conduct.

We cannot emphasize enough that the most important stakeholder in an election is the voter and the election management body will at all times operate to protect the voter from unethical and unfair campaign practices. Voters must be allowed to exercise their rights to choose their preferred candidate and vote for them without any form of threat, intimidation or inducement.

It is common knowledge that campaigns can unscrupulously target potential groups of voters which may have negative effects on others. It is essential that information and language used in campaigns upholds the dignity of individuals. We would also add that campaigners must ensure that voters are not misled with incorrect information.

One of the fundamental tenets of ‘free and fair elections’ is ethical campaigns.

The Fijian Elections Office will refer any reports of malpractice in campaigns to FICAC for investigation. We may do so following the receipt of a report or we may do so in exercise of our own discretion as per s18 of the Electoral Act.

It is important to highlight certain legal requirements, responsibilities and restrictions when it comes to campaign as well.

The FEO has opened new complaints platform for voters to report any suspicious behavior resulting from campaigns directly through email – complaints@feo.org.fj or they can contact us on mobile 8912685. Letters addressed to the Supervisor of Elections can be hand delivered to any FEO office or posted to P.O.Box 2528, Government Buildings, Suva.

Lastly, ladies and gentlemen, as we progress into a more intensified campaign period, we urge all electoral stakeholders to exercise their rights and freedoms responsibly. We urge every voter to be conscious of their individual right to choose their own candidate and this right should not be compromised by any other individual. We are available to receive reports and action through law enforcement necessary remedies in the event any voter may feel their rights are being compromised.

Electoral Act

Campaign rules

116.—(1) Any political party, any candidate for election to Parliament and any person representing, or acting under the direction of, any political party or any candidate must—

(a)respect the rights and freedoms of all other political parties and candidates to campaign, and to disseminate their political ideas and principles without fear; and

(b)conduct itself in a manner that respects the rights of other political parties and candidates, and respects the rights of voters.

(3) Any political party, any candidate for election to Parliament and any person representing, or acting under the direction of, any political party or any candidate must not—

(c) use any language or publish or distribute pamphlets, newsletters or posters or make any broadcast containing language or material that amounts to racial or religious vilification or that threatens or incites violence;

(5) Any person who contravenes subsections (3) or (4) commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or to both.

Prohibition on vote buying

114.—(1) It shall be unlawful for political parties, candidates and their representatives, either personally or through other persons, to give or offer to any citizen money, gifts, material goods of any value (except for campaign material) or services free of charge, to sell goods or services to persons at a preferential price, or to promise to provide any monetary fund, gift, material goods or services of any value for the purpose of gaining or influencing votes in an election.

(2) Any person who contravenes this section commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $50,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years, or to both.

It is also necessary that we highlight the legal framework around funding and particularly on sources of funds for the purposes of campaign:

Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Act Sources of funds for a political party and independent candidate

21.—(1) The sources of funds for a political party shall only be from—

(a)membership fees;

(b)voluntary contributions, donations, bequests and grants from a lawful source, not being from a foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organisation; and

(c)the proceeds of any investment, project or undertaking in which the political party has an interest.

(2) The sources of funds for an independent candidate shall only be from—

(a)voluntary contributions, donations, bequests and grants from a lawful source, not being from a foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organisation; and

(b)the proceeds of any investment, project, or undertaking in which the independent candidate has an interest.

Political Parties and prospective Independent Candidates need to be mindful of the limitations in funding under s22 of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding & Disclosures) Act,

22.—(1) A political party or a candidate for election to Parliament (or any person on behalf of the political party who is involved in the administration of the affairs of the political party including any office holder of the political party, or any person on behalf of the candidate) who receives any political donation from a foreign government, inter-governmental or non- governmental organisation, or multilateral agency, commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to both.

(2)Subject to subsection (6), any person who is a Fijian citizen or a former Fijian citizen shall not make any political donation to a political party or to a candidate for election to Parliament (or to any person on behalf of the political party who is involved in the administration of the affairs of the political party including any office holder of the political party, or to any person on behalf of the candidate) of an amount exceeding $10,000 in any one year (whether to one or more registered political parties or candidates).

(3)Any person who is not a Fijian citizen or a former Fijian citizen, shall not make a political donation to any political party or candidate for election to Parliament.

(4)A person who contravenes subsections (2) or (3) commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to both.

(5)A political party or a candidate for election to Parliament (or any person on behalf of the political party who is involved in the administration of the affairs of the political party including any office holder of the political party, or any person on behalf of the candidate) who receives a political donation from any person who is not a Fijian citizen or former Fijian citizen, or receives a political donation exceeding $10,000 from a Fijian citizen or a former Fijian citizen, commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to both, and in addition to the penalty imposed by this Decree, forfeit that amount to the State.

(6)Subsection (2) shall not apply to any political donation made by any founding member of the political party as political donation to the initial assets of the party within the first year of its existence.

(7)It shall be unlawful for any—

(a)political party;

(b)office holder of a political party;

(c)candidate for election to Parliament; or

(d)agent, campaigner or servant of a political party or candidate for election to Parliament,

to accept any political donation unless the political donation is from an individual.

(8) It shall be unlawful for any—

(a)political party;

(b)office holder of a political party;

(c)candidate for election to Parliament; or

(d)agent, campaigner or servant of a political party or candidate for election to Parliament, to accept any political donation from a company, a body corporate or any other entity.

(9) It shall be unlawful for any company, body corporate or any other entity to make any political donation to any—

(a)political party;

(b)office holder of a political party;

(c)candidate for election to Parliament; or

(d)agent, campaigner or servant of a political party or candidate for election to Parliament.

(10) It shall be unlawful for any company, body corporate or any other entity to make any payment or contribution to any individual for the purpose of that individual making a political donation to any—

(a)political party;

(b)office holder of a political party;

(c)candidate for election to Parliament; or

(d)agent, campaigner or servant of a political party or candidate for election to Parliament.

(11) It shall be unlawful for a company, a body corporate or any other entity to provide, and for any political party or candidate for election to Parliament (or any person on behalf of the political party who is involved in the administration of the affairs of the political party including any office holder of the political party, or any person on behalf of the candidate) to accept from a company, a body corporate or any other entity, any of the following—

(a) The full or part payment of expenditure for advertising by a political party or a candidate for election to Parliament; or

(b)the waiving of all or any part of payment of expenditure for advertising by a political party or candidate for election to Parliament.

(12)For the purposes of this section, “political donation” means a donation of money or goods and services, loan, credit facility, bond, share, negotiable security or property that is made at no charge, to a registered political party or to a candidate (or any person on behalf of the political party who is involved in the administration of the affairs of the political party including any office holder of the political party, or any person on behalf of the candidate), but does not include the labour of any person that is provided to a registered political party or to a candidate at no charge by that person.

(13)Any person who contravenes subsections (7), (8), (9), (10) and (11) commits an offence and shall be liable upon conviction to a fine not exceeding $10,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to both.”

CODE OF CONDUCT FOR POLITICAL PARTIES

1.Every political party shall strictly observe and comply with this code of conduct.

2.This code of conduct shall regulate the behaviour of members and office holders of political parties, aspiring candidates, candidates and their supporters, promote good

governance and eradicate political malpractices. 3. Every political party shall—

(a)respond to the interests, the concerns and the needs of the citizens of Fiji;

(b)respect and uphold the democratic process as they compete for political power so as to implement their policies;

(c)promote consensus building in policy decision making on issues of national importance;

(d)promote national patriotism and national unity; and

(e)respect, uphold and promote democratic values and principles, performing inclusive participation of political party members and accountable representation in governance.

4. Every political party shall—

(a)respect the right of all persons to participate in the political process;

(b)respect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law; and

(c)respect, uphold and promote human dignity, equity, social justice, equality and non- discrimination.

5. Every political party shall—

(a)respect and uphold this Decree and any other written law relating to elections and political parties;

(b)respect and uphold their respective political party constitutions, political party election rules, political party nomination rules and any other political party rules and regulations developed and agreed upon in accordance with this code of conduct;

(c)respect, uphold and promote good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability;

(d)respect, uphold and promote democratic practices through regular, free, fair and credible elections within the political party and include having democratically elected office holders and political party organs; and

(e)perform transparency and accountability in all party policies, rules, structures, procedures and performance.

6. A political party shall not—

(a)engage in or encourage violence by its members or supporters;

(b)engage in influence peddling, bribery or any other form of corruption;

(c)accept or use illicit or illegal money;

(d)accept or use public resources other than those allocated to the political party; and

(e)advocate hatred that constitutes ethnic or religious incitement or vilification of others or any other communal antagonism.