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Electoral Amendment Bill Passed

“It has been there for nine years, exactly the same. What is the difference between that provision and this provision? None.”
02 Sep 2022 10:00
Electoral Amendment Bill Passed
Supervisor of Election Mohammed Saneem (left) with Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament on September 1, 2022. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Opposition Members of Parliament tried to turn the Electoral Amendment Bill debate into a political issue.

Attorney-General and Minister for Economy, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, made the statement while delivering his right of response in the debate of the Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 in parliament yesterday.

The Bill received strong opposition, however it was later passed in parliament yesterday afternoon. Leader of Opposition, Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu, labelled the amendment as unnecessary.

 

SODELPA MP Mitieli Bulanauca, said the amendment was draconian and showed the desperation of the FijiFirst party to win the 2022 General Election.

SODELPA MP, Ro Filipe Tuisawau, said the new amendment signaled that there was a big problem with the Government.

In response, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the amendment the opposition were objecting to had been in the political parties’ registration, conduct funding and disclosures Act Since 2013.

 

Exactly The Same Since 2013

“Exactly the same provision that I wish to read out again, under Section 26,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“It says notwithstanding the generality of subsection one, the registrar has reason to believe that a person has information or relevant documents to or required by the Registrar for the performance of his or her duties under this Act.”

Registrar may find notice in writing, direct the person to furnish such information or documentation, this exactly is the same permission.

 

Registrar in this case, is also the supervisor of elections. “It has been nine years since the provision has been put in place.

“It has been there for nine years, exactly the same. What is the difference between that provision and this provision? None.”

He said the only difference was that the opposition was now trying to make this a political issue.

“They know full well sir that they will lose the next elections and they’re trying to make excuses to say it’s not free, fair and credible.”

 

Response To Ro Filipe

During the debate SODELPA MP Ro Filipe Tuisawau questioned why the Fijian Elections Office didn’t stop applications by new political parties.

“The honourable member in his desperation berated this white ballot paper. He said why didn’t you stop all these political parties being formed? Sir, under Section 23 of the Constitution, it says every citizen has the freedom to make political choices and the right to form or join a political party, participate in activities or recruit members for a political party and campaign for political parties.”

“That’s the political right. It’s a fundamental political right. “You want the vote? You go campaign. Your policies will appeal to people,” Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

 

The Bill

The Electoral Amendment Bill provides that the supervisor is required to verify compliance and to take necessary action to ensure guidelines are fully complied with.

Any appeal against the decision of the supervisor under section 110A of the Act can be made to the Electoral Commission.

The Bill also inserts section 110A to the Electoral Act to empower the Electoral Commission to adopt and publish guidelines on opinion polls, surveys and research related to elections, as it deems fit for the conduct of free and fair elections.

 

Feedback: inoke.rabonu@fijisun.com.fj



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