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Right to contest poll

Shalveen Chand
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NATIONAL Federation Party candidate Makereta Waqavonovono has made an application for constitutional redress in the High Court.

Ms Waqavonovono filed a motion against the chairperson of the Fijian Electoral Commission, the Supervisor of Elections and the Attorney-General who is also the Minister Responsible for Elections.

According to the motions filed by Ms Waqavonovono, she believes she is eligible to stand as a candidate for NFP in the general election in September but may be disqualified under Section 23 of the Electoral Decree 2014.

Ms Waqavovono was a senior adviser in the Solomon Islands Public Solicitor's Office in 2012, and in 2013, she was in Australia doing her Masters in Law.

Section 23(4)(c) of the Electoral Decree states a person is eligible to be nominated as a candidate for election to parliament only if the person is ordinarily resident in Fiji for at least two years immediately before being nominated.

According to Ms Waqavonovono's motions, this section in the Decree violates her constitutional rights provided in Section 23(2), Section 23(3)(c) and Section 26 of the 2013 Constitution.

Ms Waqavonovono is seeking a declaration on this section of the Electoral Decree to be declared invalid because it unlawfully discriminates against the political rights of citizens.

She also claims this section infringes on citizens' right to a fair and free election because it restricts their options thus they will not be able to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Ms Waqavonovono is also seeking an injunction restraining the Electoral Commission Chairperson, the Supervisor of Elections and the Attorney-General, whether by themselves, their subordinate officers, servants or agents or otherwise howsoever, from interfering with her rights to be a candidate in the general election.

A hearing date for next Monday has been given but before the substantive matter can be heard, there will be a hearing on the application by the Respondents, represented by the Solicitor General, Sharvada Nand Sharma, to strike out the motion on the ground that the High Court does not have the jurisdiction to hear the case.

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