FLP calls for enquiry

THE Fiji Labour Party has called for an independent investigation into the affairs of the Fijian Elections Office (FEO).

The party’s call follows the cancellation of a proposed meeting between the registered political parties and the FEO without an explanation.

“We have a number of urgent issues to settle with the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections which must be done well ahead of the election,” FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry said.

“Opposition political parties have been agitating for regular meetings with the FEO in order to discuss and resolve their concerns, some of which are serious and impinge on the conduct of free and fair elections. Mr Chaudhry said the supervisor scheduled a meeting for March 7, requesting the political parties to name their representatives and submit two items each which they wished to discuss at the meeting.

He then said parties complied but were informed on March 2 that the meeting had been rescheduled for today.

“No explanation was given for the deferment.”

He said they were informed on Tuesday via email from the FEO that the chairperson of the Electoral Commission had postponed the meeting to a later date.

“No new dates were given in the notification nor were any reasons given for the second deferment.

“This is absurd and must not be tolerated.”

Mr Chaudhry stated that under Section 14(e) of the Electoral Act, the commission and the Supervisor of Elections must meet regularly with political parties and other stakeholders to update them and discuss matters related to the election.

Mr Chaudhry also said they had sent a letter to the FEO to query the deferment but there was no response to it.

“We did send a letter but there was no response,” he said.

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Suresh Chandra said it was disturbing that FLP had taken a minor issue and issued a media statements in a likely attempt to draw media attention.

“We find it disappointing and rather dubious that the Fiji Labor Party continues to use The Fiji Times as a means of communication with the Electoral Commission and the FEO,” Mr Chandra said.

“The Fiji Labour Party can easily send the same query to the Electoral Commission and the FEO directly so that an appropriate response can be issued.

“The Fiji Times should exercise caution so that it does not become the means for politicisation of the Electoral Commission or the FEO through politicians.

“The Electoral Commission finds such behaviour highly irresponsible and we expect the FLP to follow the communication channels already established by the commission,” he said.