New Elections Course At USP

An agreement has been signed that will allow the introduction of a programme for a university level certificate course called Election Management. The agreement is between the Fijian Elections Office,
06 Sep 2018 11:30
New Elections Course At USP
Deputy Supervisor of Election Karyl Winter (from left), Country Programme Manager, International IDEA, Adhy Aman), USP Deputy Vice Chancellor Richard Coll, Professor Ramlan Surbakti, Acting Prime Minister and Attorney General and Minister for Education Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, Indonesian Ambassador Benyamin Carnadi, Dr. Sandra Tarte of USP and Supervisor of Election Mohammed Saneem dafter the partnership signing between Fiji Election office, International IDEA, USP and Embassy of Indonesian in Fiji on September 5,2018. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

An agreement has been signed that will allow the introduction of a programme for a university level certificate course called Election Management.

The agreement is between the Fijian Elections Office, International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance), the University of the South Pacific and the Embassy of Indonesia in Fiji.

The six-month course will be
facilitated by Indonesian Professor Ramlan Surbakti and taught at the University of the South Pacific.

The programme will start soon.

The Attorney-General and Minister responsible for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the course will pave the way for the development of a certificate in Elections Management at USP.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the
agreement was a huge achievement and he thanked the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem for the initiative in developing a deep culture of democracy. 

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said democracy was not only about election, it was about also ensuring that the election was conducted with
integrity, with the right technology.

Neither was it only about parliamentarian election but actual democracy within our everyday society, he said.

“We need to embed a culture of democracy. We can only do so if we have transparency and integrity within the systems,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“I think it is a fantastic initiative. The University of the South Pacific is the first in Fiji to host this because you have a lot of regional students, there’s no doubt, there’s a lot of democracy capacity building that’s required in other Pacific Island countries too, and we hope that USP can provide that to the students.”

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum highlighted the system at the Elections Office since independence and the lack of resources.

When the laws were put together in Fiji prior to 2014, he said, Government saw there was an opportunity to mordenise the system knowing that it was actually an evolutionary process, a process that we need to continuously build upon.

“We will every day encounter new technology, we will everyday encounter new challenges, we will everyday encounter the bringing in of new rights,” he said.

“What we need to do is remove the politics out of election management because once you do that, you actually have what you call objective assessment of electoral management.”

He said that the shenanigans in the past week in some of the print media about political parties writing all sorts of nonsense and the politicisation of electoral management was extremely dangerous as it undermines democracy.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum added that people needed to be able to assess electoral management from an objective and non-political perspective.

Supervisor of Elections Mr  Saneem said when FEO began, they only had 13MB of data from which they had to make their manuals and prepare the staff members for the 2014 General Election.

He said then they heavily relied on experts and consultants to help with the development of all the procedures and the manuals that they had in their office. 

“Thereafter the FEO decided to do training on Election Management. We believe there is room to study about elections,” he said.

Edited by Ranoba Baoa

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