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Draw D-day

Shalveen Chand
Saturday, August 23, 2014

THE Fijian Elections Office last night maintained the draw of candidates' numbers would go on today despite differing verdicts over objections and appeals with the Electoral Commission.

Commission chairman Chen Bunn Young ruled in favour of one objection and one appeal, ruling out Praveen Bala of the FijiFirst party and allowing Fiji Labour Party's Steven Singh to run in the September election.

But the announcement came one hour after Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said he would stick to the list of candidates he had on August 19, the day the Fiji Elections Office made its decision on the validity of candidates and knocked 12 off the list.

Mr Saneem, who sought the advice of the Solicitor-General Sharvada Sharma before making his announcement at 6.30pm, said the commission had exceeded the time it took to rule on the objections and appeals.

He said the deadline for the commission was 4pm yesterday.

Mr Young, who earlier this week stated that the commission would not be rushed into a decision, said they had sought the advice of electoral experts from New Zealand.

At press time last night, the commission and Mr Saneem were adamant they were right and said they would seek legal advice and discuss the issue further.

The draw of the candidate numbers is scheduled to be held at the Fiji Elections Office at 9am today.

"There has not been any decisions on the appeals that has been received by the Supervisor of Elections as at 4pm today (yesterday) and based on that, I proceeded to take legal advice and the legal advice states that due to the non-delivery of the decision, the Electoral Commission has, by not delivering the decision, frustrated the provisions of the Electoral Decree, in particular sections 30 and 31," said Mr Saneem during his press announcement.

"I would refer to the sections that say the decision has to be handed within three days of the receipt of objections and appeals, the time expired at 4pm effectively and I have not received anything.

"Therefore, the National Candidates List draw will proceed as advised tomorrow (today) at 9am and we will use the list that was published in the newspaper on August 19, 2014."

This means that Mr Bala is in and Mr Singh is out.

Mr Young said they didn't want to be rushed into making any decisions and would deliberate carefully before making their announcement regarding the objections and appeals.

"Well, we had made the decision at basically about 2 o'clock but then we had to write the reasons down and that took us time obviously.

"There's six of us and we wanted to ensure that we expressed it as best as we could so that took us some time, past to this particular time.

"I understand the Supervisor of Elections has a different view from us.

"We took legal opinion on what it meant, when it started and when it came to an end, and obviously he took the view that it ended at 4pm."





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