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Seek permission

Nasik Swami
Thursday, April 10, 2014

ATTORNEY-GENERAL and Elections Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has clarified that NGOs need the permission of the Electoral Commission to conduct voter education programs.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said he has met the NGO Coalition of Human Rights and clarified Section 115 of the Electoral Decree.

"When they came and saw us, they said they wanted to know the effect of Section 115. We had Fiji Women's Rights Movement, Women's Crisis Centre and CCF representatives," Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said.

"And they can, but must seek the permission of the Electoral Commission because under the Constitution, the Electoral Commission is the one responsible for education, the commission would not mind partnering with various NGOs because lot of them get a lot of funding."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the provision, however, did not stop civil societies form engaging in voter awareness or education.

"If you let them loose and they have a particular agenda, they can actually go out and tell people the wrong thing.

"So, this is why the education material needs to be sanctioned by the commission."

Section 115 of the Electoral Decree states that following the announcement date of the election, it shall be unlawful for any person, entity or organisation that receives funding or assistance from a foreign government, inter-governmental or non-governmental organisation or multilateral agency to engage in or conduct campaign that is related to the election.