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PM will resign as commander if contests poll

January 17
10:12 2013

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama with Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon yesterday. The Prime Minister was in New York to assume chairmanship of the influental Group of 77 plus China. He also met with the UN Secretary-General to update him on Fiji’s progress towards democratic elections next year. Full text of PM’s speech on Page 12. Photo: MINISTRY OF INFORMATION.

A-G: Rules include RFMF and public officers
TIKOITOGA: PM has always made this clear

By JYOTI PRATIBHA

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama will resign from his post as Commander of Republic of Fiji Military Forces if he wants to stand in next year’s general elections.
This appears to have been lost on those such as trade unionists who are now criticising the just-announced new rules for political parties.
Attorney-General and Minister for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum confirmed provisions covering military officers and public servants include Commodore Bainimarama
“Of course the Prime Minister would need to resign,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said of Commodore Bainimarama’s role as commander if he goes into politics.
Republic of Fiji Military Forces Land Force Commander and military spokesperson Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga reinforced this. Colonel Tikoitoga said although Commodore Bainimarama had made this clear before, this was conveniently forgotten by those who wanted to criticise him.
Colonel Tikoitoga said: “This has always been the stance of RFMF and this is not a new announcement.
“If the Prime Minister wishes to contest the general elections, he will have to resign (as commander). This is something that the Prime Minister had also made clear previously.”
The Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure) Decree 2013 was announced by Mr Sayed-Khaiyum on Tuesday.
Section 14 (1) (a) of the decree reads that a public officer shall not be eligible to be either a member of a political party, hold any posts in the party, engage in any party activities or indicate their support for any political party.
A public officer is defined in the decree as one holding any office in the public service, the Fiji Police Force, Corrections Services, Military or any elected or appointed member of a trade union registered under the Employment Relations Promulgation 2007 or any federation, congress or affiliation of trade unions.
This definition of a public officer, however, does not include the positions of President, Prime Minister, a Minister, the Leader of the Opposition or a Member of Parliament.

Need for decree

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the decree also has provisions intended to bring about accountability and transparency amongst political parties.
“This decree is not singling out any group of people.
“It is clear that the decree sets out rules pertaining to political parties- their accountability and transparency.”
This included restricting how political parties are funded.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said if, for example, a business house donated $500,000 towards a political party’s campaigning, and if that party wins, the business house would want special favours.

A glimpse of the decree:

Expulsion from the party:
As per the decree, a party member can only be expelled if the member has infringed the constitution of the political party and after the member has been afforded a fair opportunity to be heard.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was needed to ensure that political parties were democratic in the true sense.
To ensure that political parties are transparent, section 16 (3) of the decree states that within 30 days of being registered, the party is to state all sources of funds and other assets to the registrar.
The registrar would then publish the given information in media.
Furthermore, a political party could be deregistered by the Registrar if it fails to promote free and fair nominations of candidates.
Also Section 23 (1) of the decree states that within 30 days from the end of its financial year, all registered political parties are to inform the Registrar the sources of funds and amount of donations given to the party, together with the party’s income and expenditure record.
As per section 24 of the decree, any person who is an applicant for the registration of the political party and all office holders are to declare their total assets and total income- in Fiji and abroad- to the Registrar within 30 days of close of financial year.
All persons nominated by a party for election are to declare all assets, sources of income and any business transaction entered into by them in Fiji and abroad.

Code of Conduct

Also set out in the decree is the code of conduct for all registered political parties.
This sets out that each party should respond to the interests, concerns and needs of Fiji citizens.

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