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Fiji Time: 7:41 PM on Thursday 18 September

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Political party questions decree criteria

Nasik Swami
Thursday, January 17, 2013

THE new rules in place for political parties by the government in the new Political Parties Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosure Decree 2013 are unduly onerous and unworkable, says the National Federation Party (NFP).

Party general secretary, Pramod Rae said the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum's announcement that existing parties must comply within 28 days or be wound up and prosecuted was also 'unrealistic'.

"It is unlikely any existing party will be able to achieve full compliance within the 28 days and hence will be disqualified from the Constituent Assembly," Mr Rae said.

He said the decree impeded freedom of association and expression of political views by Fijians and their right to choose their party officers, when it should be facilitating it.

"The restrictions on party activity recently have severely depleted party resources needed to meet the new membership criteria, including opening branch offices in every division and other severe requirements of the decree," he said.

Mr Rae said the decree also unfairly discriminated between existing parties who had only 28 days to comply or be wound up and prosecuted, and new parties who had until 30 days before the next election to organise themselves.

"The NFP's preparations for celebrating its golden jubilee this year now seem to be in jeopardy," he said.

According to the new decree, people listed under the term "public officer", which means any member of the disciplined services would also have to resign if they want to be in a party.

But Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said a "public officer" did not mean the President, the Prime Minister or a minister.

Under the new degree political parties need to have at least 5000 members.

Of these members the party must have at least 2000 in the Central Division, 1750 in the Western Division, 1000 in the Northern Division and 250 members in the Eastern Division. The party's application must include a $5005 fee.


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