THE old days of a single loud voice dictating the votes of many are over, permanently, says the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.
In his new year's message yesterday, Commodore Bainimarama said from now, each and every Fijian was free to vote with their minds.
"One person, one vote, one value. You must grasp our future with all your might. It is your hands that will steer Fiji onward," he said.
"With this new degree of true political freedom and hope comes a new level of responsibility. Voters themselves are obliged to make informed decisions about who to vote for."
Commodore Bainimarama urged Fijians not to take these decisions lightly.
He said before the election, voters must educate themselves and ask questions of those standing for office, about the candidates' positions on the issues, learning their track records, listening carefully to their promises, knowing whether they have the capacity to deliver or not and weighing their sincerity and honesty.
He said this was essential.
"In order to choose the best government, the voters must prepare and if they do, they will get it right.
"Each voter must consider for themselves the main questions: What do you want for you and your family?
"What is the best plan for the future of Fiji? Whose plan will make Fiji strong and modern?
"Coming in to this election year, we are beginning to see the choices ahead.
"Fiji now has four registered political parties and I will form a fifth in the coming months. There maybe others."
Commodore Bainimarama said the different political parties have the gravest responsibility and that was to conduct themselves in an honest no-nonsense approach to the election and to the Fijian people.