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Parties seek answers

Shalveen Chand
Wednesday, January 08, 2014

POLITICAL parties are hoping the government sets up the Elections Office and releases its electoral legislation so they know where they stand.

The United Front for a Democratic Fiji has said the Electoral Act would reveal what they called the rules of engagement for the upcoming elections.

"Right now, we are just sort of waiting on the Electoral Act and of course the Electoral Act will tell us how the elections are being planned to be run and that's what we are keen to understand," said UFDF member Mick Beddoes.

UFDF is also seeking answers on how the Constitutional Offices Commission will operate.

The Fiji Labour Party has voiced similar concerns, saying it would only finalise its candidates after the electoral legislation is in place.

The Social Democratic and Liberal Party has voiced similar sentiments through the UFDF.

The Citizens Constitutional Forum has also called on the government to speed up electoral appointments.

According to the government, the elections will happen in September although the Electoral Commission and a Supervisor of Elections have yet to be appointed.

The Elections portfolio falls under the Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who is currently abroad on personal commitments.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum told Radio New Zealand last month the body tasked with overseeing Fiji's elections would be set up by the end of the month.

He said the next few weeks would focus on the structure of the Elections Office and the appointment of commissioners to the body which would direct it, the Electoral Commission.

In his interview with Sally Rounds, he said: "We've approached a few people, and some were initially hesitant to join up because of travel bans posed by Australia and New Zealand. But we do have letters from the Australian and New Zealand governments confirming that travel bans won't apply to people who are appointed as commissioners.

"So we do have the letter and we have that assurance from them.

"Of course, given the past six-year history of travel bans applied rather widely some people are still hesitant and don't want to take that risk.

"But we're still looking at getting some good, credible people on board. We've identified some people and we'd like to appoint all seven of them at once, or at least recommend the names of the constitution office submission."

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