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NFP questions officials' recruitment

Nasik Swami
Wednesday, May 21, 2014

THE decision to recruit members of the public as presiding and assistant presiding officers by the Fijian Elections Office is highly questionable and an unusual practice says NFP leader Professor Biman Prasad.

Prof Prasad said every general election since 1972 had civil servants managing polling stations.

"September 17, which is polling day, is a public holiday. Surely we have more than 14,000 civil servants who can work as presiding officers and their assistants," Prof Prasad said.

"Why are civil servants being passed? Does it mean that the Elections Office does not trust the civil servants to do this work?"

Prof Prasad said one of the criteria for members of the public who wished to work in polling stations was that they be politically neutral.

"Hardly any member of the public who is a registered voter can be expected to be apolitical after having seen, heard, read or participated in political campaign," he claimed.

Prof Prasad believes at least 80,000 voters have signed up as members of four political parties and a proposed party.

Elections Supervisor Mohammed Saneem yesterday said recruiting locals as polling day officials would provide a sense of ownership to the Fijians.

Mr Saneem said it was important that everybody participated in the election.

Electoral Commission chairman Chen Bunn Young said the electoral office was trying to ensure it remained independent and continued to provide opportunities to Fijians.