Welcome to the Fijian Elections Office. To help me read out words on the site you will need to highlight text and click on the speaker icon. Allternatively, you may click on the listen button.   Click to listen highlighted text! Welcome to the Fijian Elections Office. To help me read out words on the site you will need to highlight text and click on the speaker icon. Allternatively, you may click on the listen button.

Election Officials Contract Signing Deadline Extension

Statement by Acting Director Strategic Development & Communications

Mr. Edwin Nand

Election Officials Contract Signing Deadline Extension

29th March, 2018 – 3.00pm

FEO HQ – Suva

Bula vinaka members of the media.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to announce today that we are extending the deadline for the contract signing for Elections Officials who will be working during the 2018 General Election.

Elections Officials who have not signed their contract yet now have until the 7th of April, 2018 to do so.

So far ladies and gentlemen, a total of 3,288 Elections Officials have signed their contract from March 6 to March 28, 2018.

To make it easier for Elections Officials, we have printed contracts and distributed them to the respective Divisional Offices for signing by the applicants.

Looking at the breakdown, a total of 1300 Elections Officials have signed in the Central Division, 638 in the Western Division, 1059 in the Northern Division and 291 in the Eastern Division.

We thank those Elections Officials who have taken their time to visit our offices nationwide to sign their contracts.

While this is a high number, we still have 4,110 Elections Official who are yet to sign their contracts.

2874 Elections Officials have not signed their contracts in the Central Division, 714 in the Western Division, 452 in the Northern Division and 70 in the Eastern Division.

Given that a total of 1435 Polling Venues need to be staffed in preparation for the 2018 General Election, we are encouraging Elections Officials who are yet to sign, to please do so before April 7th.

In the event an Election Official does not sign their contract by the deadline, another Election Official from the reserve list will be allocated to the position which would result in one person missing out on the opportunity to be part of the staffing requirements for the 2018 General Election.

Successful applicants are being notified via SMS of their assigned venue of contract signing and our teams are making follow up calls to these individuals on their mobile phones.

We have been advised that the biggest challenge right now is contacting applicants whose mobile phones are switched off or diverted.

We will also advertise in both the daily newspapers the venues and locations where Elections Officials can go to sign their contracts from Tuesday 03 April, until Saturday 07 April 2018.

For those who are yet to sign their contracts, it is important to know that if you change your address, mobile phone number 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 implications in salary payment following the end of your contract.

Ladies and gentlemen, we are also in the process of informing those applicants who failed to meet our criteria that their applications have not been successful.

Vinaka.

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Know Your Election Awareness Deployment for Corporate Organisations

Statement by Acting Director Strategic Development and Communications

Mr Edwin Nand

Know Your Election Awareness Deployment for Corporate Organisations

FEO HQ – 22 March, 2018

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

This morning I am pleased to announce the expansion of the Know Your Elections Awareness program to business houses.

The Know Your Elections awareness program that was initially started on the 15th of March, has been successfully running in the rural areas so far.

In light of the fact that there is a huge group of population of the country that work in the business community as well as organizational set ups, the Fijian Elections Office would now wish to expand its awareness drive into directly creating awareness into these organisations.

We are therefore urging the heads of various organisations, business communities as well as any pockets where there is a population of voters to contact the Fijian Elections Office so that we can organize to have an awareness created at your organization.

We urge all such employers to consider the corporate social responsibility and particularly in terms of capacity building of employees when it comes to matters of national interest and we urge you to make an appointment with our team to allow our teams to come and provide voter services and at the same time create awareness amongst your staff about the upcoming general election.

The Know Your Election program and the voter awareness drive is an apolitical exercise and the Fijian Elections Office invites all employers to contact us without delay.

You may contact us on the following details:

For the Central Division – Akuila Vakaloloma on 8022305 or akuila.vakaloloma@feo.org.fj or Anish Narayan on 8917230 or anish.narayan@feo.org.fj;

For the Western Division – Kinisalote Drasuna on 8914414 or kinisalote.drasuna@feo.org.fj;

For the Northern Division – Taniela Lebaivalu on 8914558 or taniela.lebaivalu@feo.org.fj;

For the Eastern Division – Maretino Atonio on 8914516 or maretino.atonio@feo.org.fj.

Thank you very much for your time ladies and gentlemen.

Vinaka Vakalevu.

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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…

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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.

 

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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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Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

28/02/18

 

MEDIA RELEASE                                                                                                        For Immediate Release

Statement by the Supervisor of Elections

This is to inform the general Public that the People’s Democratic Party has adequately complied with the law and is no longer subject to the deregistration process under the Act.

-Ends-

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

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Media Workshop 2018 Speech

Mr. Ashwin Raj, Chairperson of Media Industry Development Authority

Mr. Vasu Mohan, IFES

Mr. Stanley Simpson, from the Fiji Media Association

Facilitators of the workshop from IFES

Distinguished personnel from the media.

Bula Vinaka and goodmorning to you all.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fijian Elections Office and the Media Industry Development Authority have collaborated to bring to Fiji this International training for media on elections that is run by International Foundation for Election Systems [IFES in short]. This media workshop has been conducted by IFES in various countries previously and I am sure it will have relevance and applicability to Fiji.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as the election management body, the FEO’s main interest lies in providing the voter with the most accurate electoral information free from politicization and bias. The voter deserves to receive information that has factual backing and can be subjected to verification.

In 2014, MIDA had conducted a training on election reporting for the media. During the 2014 General Election, the media was excellent. Media organizations took care and responsibility to ensure that voters are provided the most accurate information relating to the process.

Ladies and Gentlemen, recently Fiji received a visit from the UN Commissioner on Human Rights. I have received a copy of a statement he made before left in which he made some UN type remark on the FEO. I was surprised that this person chose to make conclusions about the Fijian Elections Office without meeting us. We also were not asked to provide any information in writing to help him understand the FEO.

I am hoping that this information helps the media to understand the legal platform for elections in Fiji:

  1. The Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission is a Constitutional Office established under section 75 of the Constitution. The Electoral Commission is required to oversee the conduct of elections in Fiji in accordance with the legal framework in place. The Electoral Commission makes its own operating procedures. In various electoral procedures, the Electoral Commission is the final decision maker.

  1. The Fijian Elections Office

The Fijian Elections Office is an independent election management body responsible for the conduct of General Elections and other elections in accordance with the legal framework. The Fijian Elections Office is the Office of the Supervisor of Elections and is situated at 59 High Street, Toorak, Suva. The Fijian Elections Office has 60 core staff and employs upto 400 part-time staff during elections.

As per section 6 of the Electoral Act, the Supervisor of Elections has complete independence to determine the composition of the Fijian Elections Office. The Supervisor of Elections has the authority to determine the remuneration, the terms and conditions of employment and the recruitment procedure as well as the disciplinary processes at the Fijian Elections Office.

It is a requirement under section 7 that the Supervisor must conduct his duties and exercise his powers in an impartial manner and in accordance with the law. Section 8 of the Electoral Act further guarantees that in the performance of his or her functions and the exercise of his or her powers, the Supervisor is not subject to the direction or control by any person, except that he or she must comply with the directions or instructions that the Electoral Commission gives him or her concerning the performance of his or her functions; and a decision of a court of law exercising its jurisdiction in relation to a question on whether he or she has performed the functions or exercised the powers in accordance with the Constitution and the law, or whether he or she should or should not perform those functions or exercise those powers.

 Section 9 of the Electoral Act further requires that the Fijian Elections Office shall be an independent office which must be properly staffed and equipped to perform its duties and functions in accordance with the Constitution and this Act, with such organisational structure, key positions and authorities, as approved by the Supervisor. The Fijian Elections Office has full autonomy to open as many sub-offices as it may require.

Section 11(4) of the Electoral Act has established for the very first time that the state and local government officials must not be appointed as heads of divisional or district electoral sub offices. The law very clearly requires all state agencies to provide the Fijian Elections Office with the necessary support to facilitate an election. It makes it very clear that in providing the support, these agencies must rely on their own budgetary support rather than the Fijian Elections Office.

Section 13 of the Electoral Act has very clearly outlined the impartiality and non-partisanship framework. It states that the members of the Electoral Commission, the Supervisor, and all election officials, including employees, agents and contractors of the Fijian Elections Office, must conduct their duties and functions and exercise their powers with utmost impartiality, in compliance with the law and the Constitution, and without regard to any political or personal factor. Section 13(2) states that the members of the Electoral Commission, the Supervisor, and all election officials, including employees, agents and contractors of the Fijian Elections Office, are not entitled to undertake any political or campaign activities at any time during the period of their appointment, employment or contract with the Electoral Commission or the Fijian Elections Office. The legal framework specifically requires that election officials must refrain from any decision that would raise a conflict of interest.

Section 15 of the Electoral Act has explicitly required that Parliament allocate sufficient financial resources from the State budget for the timely and effective performance of the functions and powers of the Fijian Elections Office. The budget submission mechanism is based on the election cycle approach that is widely considered as an election best practice. Section 16 of the Act empowers the Supervisor of Elections by granting him complete control on the procurements and usage of the budget of the Fijian Elections Office. The legal framework has allowed the Fijian Elections Office to establish its own procurement system suitable for election related activities.

 The Electoral Act, in section 17, establishes an electoral complaints handling procedure that permits the electoral system to deal with election related complaints. This is another election good practice as it ensure election related complaints, some of which may be technical in nature, are dealt with expeditiously.

  1. Protection of Offices under the Constitution

The Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections are Constitutional institutions. The Supervisor of Elections is required to comply with the directions of the Electoral Commission. The tenure of office for Electoral Commissioners is 3 years and the Supervisor of Election can be appointed for a term of upto 5 years as provided under section 135 of the Constitution.

Section 136 of the Constitution protects office holders from persecution through protection of the remuneration. According to section 136, salaries of persons holding such offices can only be reduced as part of general austerity reduction similarly applicable to all offices of the State.

The Constitution also protects office holders from arbitrary loss of office. Section 137 of the Constitution requires that an independent office of enquiry is setup. The minimum membership of this tribunal is 3 and it is a requirement that out of the 3 members, one has to be qualified to be appointed a Judge. The tribunal is required to provide a report to the President with its recommendation.

  1. The 2014 General Election

The Fijian Elections Office conducted the 2014 General Election under the current legal framework. The Multinational Observer Group Report on the 2014 General Election found that the legal framework in Fiji was sufficient for the conduct of credible and legitimate elections in Fiji. [Page 7]

The Multinational Observer Group also found that the Electoral Commission and the FEO were competent, professional and committed in performing their duties. [Page 9] It was also found that the Funding regulations for political parties were within the range of common international practices. In 2014, there were no instances where applications for accreditation by the media were refused. At page 21 of the Report the Multinational Observer Group found that the recruitment process of election time staff  “appears to have been open and merit-based, and included literacy and numeracy tests, police checks, and a requirement to be non-partisan. This process was broadly consistent with international best practice.”

The Multinational Observer Group “noted the admirable effort by the FEO to reach out to voters in geographically isolated areas and through door-to-door awareness activities in informal settlements.” [page 22] Observers reported that “polling stations were generally well organized and operated efficiently. Observers commended polling staff on their professionalism and flexibility in problem-solving.”

It is noteworthy to highlight the conclusion of the Multinational Observer Group in its report which states “The FEO and election workers were competent, professional and committed in performing their duties, sometimes under challenging circumstances.

  1. Regional and International involvement of the Fijian Elections Office

The Fijian Elections Office has full autonomy to expand its capacities through collaboration and partnership agreements with international and regional organizations. Since the 2014 General Election, the Fijian Elections Office has participated in election observation missions in Tonga (2017), Papua New Guinea (2017), Vanuatu (2016) and the Supervisor of Elections was lead the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat Election Observer Mission to the General Election for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in 2015.

The Fijian Elections Office co-hosted that first ever Pacific Regional Dialogue on Disabilities in 2016 in partnership with International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) and the Pacific Islands Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators Network. This Dialogue was the first of its kind in the region which created a platform for discussions relating to disability and elections between senior management of Election Management bodies and representatives of disability organizations.

The Fijian Elections Office holds executive/ advisory positions in the Commonwealth Electoral Network, the Pacific Islands Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators Network and is an executive board member for the Oceania region in the Association of World Electoral Bodies (AWEB), which has total membership of 106 election management bodies from around the world.

Since its establishment, the Fijian Elections Office has executed Memorandum of Understanding for mutual collaboration and capacity development with the Australian Electoral Commission, New Zealand Electoral Commission, Indian Electoral Commission, Indonesian Electoral Commission, Central Elections Commission of the Russian Federation and the National Election Commission of Korea.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here we have a classic case of a flyby where the maker of the statement fell victim to bias, probably politically influenced statements to be drawn by some as the ultimate conclusion on the matter. We have already seen how the unsubstantiated statement is being made a political football and being tossed around.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this incident also shows how important it is to do thorough research. This is an election year and I am sure you will come across event more controversial statements. I would urge that the people of Fiji who are the key stakeholder and the ultimate beneficiaries of the electoral process have a right to the most accurate information.

On behalf of the Electoral Commission and my colleagues at the FEO, I would like to wish you all the very best for this training. We hope the workshop has value in promoting better practices in your field of work and builds capacity in dealing with reporting on elections.

Vinaka vakalevu.

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