A-G Criticises Karavaki, Prasad Over Electoral Commission Claims
The office of the previous Supervisor of Elections and current SODELPA MP Semesa Karavaki acted as the secretariat to the Electoral Commission (EC) in 2006, a European Union report on the 2006 elections revealed.
Fierce debate took place in Parliament last week when an amendment to the Electoral Bill, which is now an Act, was brought to the floor.
It was proposed that the Supervisor of Elections through the Fijian Elections Office be the secretariat for the Electoral Commission.
National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad and Mr Karavaki spoke against this.
However, neither pointed out that this had actually been the practice in 2006 and Mr Karavaki was fully involved.
Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday again clarified if any conflict of interest issue comes up, the Supervisor of Elections would be asked to excuse herself or himself from the Commission’s meeting.
He said: “The fact of the matter is that the Constitution is quite clear on what the role of the EC is and indeed the role of the Supervisor for Elections and the Fijian Elections Office actually implements those operational aspects required from the Commission.”
The EU report which was compiled after its observers had the opportunity to observe the 2006 general election stated: “During the election period the Electoral Commission met regularly, with the OSE (Office of Supervisor of Elections) acting as its secretariat.
“The decisions and minutes of the Commission’s meetings were not published or communicated to the public.”
The current Act now makes it compulsory for the minutes of the Commission’s meetings to be made public within stipulated time.
The EU Report also highlighted that in 2006 some of the Commission’s decisions were not implemented by the OSE, but the Commission failed to follow up on such operational failures.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum also pointed out that in 2006 Laisenia Qarase was the Minister responsible for Elections while he was the Prime Minister and leader of Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party.
He made this comment when asked about questions raised by Opposition about him holding office as the FijiFirst General Secretary and the Attorney-General.
Mr Prasad yesterday said: “Two wrongs don’t make it right.
“That is; if that happened in 2006 it does not mean that this government should do the same.”
Edited by Maraia Vula