Fiji Time: 4:53 AM on Thursday 22 March

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Exposure will help

Shayal Devi
Thursday, May 01, 2014

THE arrival of international observer groups during the September general election will be essential in preparing Fijians for future elections.

And Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum believes this will ensure Fijians are able to conduct elections independently in the future.

"When you talk about the observer groups, we want assessments," he said.

"These are assessments from which we can all learn from. We are not here to play politics with the observer groups. We hope this exercise will build very strong capacity in Fijians so that when we have elections next, we won't be looking for foreigners.

"We use the skill sets that foreigners bring to Fiji and we appreciate this very much. However, we want to learn from them and at the same time, identify good Fijians who will be able to carry on with the job and then they can run the elections themselves in the future."

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said this was what everyone should work towards, especially political parties.

"It is quite encouraging to note the support from the Australians, Indians and even the Kiwis. The Australians have been helping us now for a number of months and we expressed our appreciation with the number of personnel that they have contributed to the Elections Office.

"There have been some very good technical people and we appreciate their ideas. In particular, the Fijian staff who learn from them.

"Political parties should be focusing on encouraging the elections office and working together as opposed to finding every single opportunity to cut down the experts from Australia, New Zealand and the good Fijian staff who work together with them."

Australian Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs Senator Brett Mason was in the country earlier this week and said he was happy to see the progress in Fiji.

"We spoke to the Attorney-General regarding the observer groups and while he is grateful for Australian support, he said capacity had to be built for the Fijian people so that Fiji could run elections itself in the future," he said.

Mr Mason said mid-September would be a critical time for Fijians.

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