Fiji prepares for General Elections

Venkat Raman in Suva

Although the date of the next General Elections is yet to be announced, the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) is ready if they were to be held tomorrow.

There is much speculation that there would be an announcement this week so that people can go to polls by the end of September but Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama is giving nothing away. Government officials do not discuss it, but businesses and individuals look forward to the polling date with anxiety.

The Election Process

Citizens of Fiji, both at home and overseas will vote to elect 50 members to the Fijian Parliament from a single nationwide Constituency by Open List Proportional Representation with an electoral threshold of 5%. Fiji uses the “D’Hondt” or the “Jefferson Method,” under which the highest averages system is used for allocating seats. The system was used in the US after Thomas Jefferson introduced it named after Belgian mathematician Victor D’Hondt.

In the current Parliament, FijiFirst, led by Mr Bainimarama has 32 seats, followed by SODELPA (15) and the National Federation Party (3).

Honest and Transparent

Mohammed Sameen has a modest title of Supervisor at the Fijian Elections Office, an independent entity established in March 2014 under the Electoral Act 2014, but he is virtually the Chief Elections Commissioner, answerable only to the Election Commission (EC) and Fiji’s President.

“Transparency, accountability and integrity are the underlying principals of the FEO. There is zero tolerance towards any form of indiscipline, indiscretion or dishonesty here. We conduct voter education programmes and provide information to Political Parties and prospective candidates,” Mr Saneem said, speaking to Indian Newslink in Suva.

Voter Education Programme

As well as publishing Handbooks separately for Polling Agents Handbook, Candidates Handbook, Media Handbook and Election Information Booklet, the FEO has embarked on a three-month ‘Know Your Election’ Awareness Drive throughout the country.

Mr Saneem said that training sessions and refresher training courses were organised for election officers to which the media was invited.

The Office has also procured Cardboard Voting Screens from New Zealand and indelible ink and vehicles from India.

Voter Registration

“We are ready and just waiting for the announcement of the date of the Elections. Our Voter Registration in Fiji and overseas has been completed with proper verification and adjudication to ensure that we have a ‘Clean Voter Roll.’ We encourage all registered voters in New Zealand to exercise their franchise, details of which will be announced in due course,” Mr Saneem said.

The FEO will invite Polling Agents and International Observers to oversee the counting process and the results of the count at a Polling Venue will be written on the Protocol of Results.

“We are taking all precautions to ensure that the election process is fair and transparent. Representatives of all registered political parties will be present when the counting is in progress and when results are declared,” Mr Saneem said.

“Voters registered in New Zealand can vote through Postal Voting in the 2018 General Election

Postal Voting Forms are available on our website at www.feo.org.fj/postal-voting. Postal Voting Forms will be accepted following the announcement of the Election Date. Once the Election Date is announced, they may send their applications and following the conclusion of the number assignment process, we will send voters Ballot Papers and the Voter Instruction Booklet for them to mark and return to us,” Mr Saneem said.

Photo Caption:

  1. Mohammed Saneem
  2. Voters in the September 2014 General Elections

(Pictures Supplied)

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