FIJI'S much awaited general election is set for September 17.
The date, gazetted by President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, has also been declared a paid public holiday.
Announcing these important details at a press briefing in Suva yesterday, Attorney-General and Minister Responsible for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the paid public holiday would be gazetted by Labour Minister Jone Usamate in the next few weeks.
At the same briefing, he announced the appointment of the permanent secretary for Elections and registrar of political parties, Mohammed Saneem, as the new Supervisor of Elections.
Mr Saneem yesterday tendered in his resignation, effective immediately, to take up his new role on March 31.
Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said Mr Saneem was appointed by Ratu Epeli following recommendations of the Constitutional Offices Commission, and after consultations with the Electoral Commission.
He said 13 applications were received — three from Fiji and 10 from abroad — while one applicant withdrew.
"We, in order to ensure there is consistency in the manner in which the assessment of the applicants were carried out, recruited the services or obtained the services of the consultants from Australia and New Zealand and the EU who were working in the Elections Office."
He said the consultants found out that "none of the candidates who applied for the position met the criteria".
"We then subsequently offered the position to one of the consultants from Australia who had already been working in the office and continues to work there.
"â€¦Unfortunately, Laura McGrath was not able to take up the position because of family commitments."
Australian Michael Clancy was appointed the deputy Supervisor of Elections, Robin Boyd as the director of Operations, former journalist Josua Tuwere as the director of Communications, and Greek Elizabeth Carijidiano as the director for Electoral Procedures.
Quick Party views:
* NFP president Raman Pratap Singh: "We expected the Electoral Commission to set the date but we don't have any problems with it."
* SODELPA president/leader Ro Teimumu Kepa: "We welcome the elections date and look forward to the general election."
* PDP Suva branch president Shamal Singh: ""It will give us ample time to prepare for the elections so we are happy with it."
* FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry: "We are concerned about the lack of time for preparation."