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'Impartiality' question

Aqela Susu
Thursday, December 01, 2016

THREE Opposition political parties have questioned the alleged impartiality of the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, after a judgment delivered by the Fiji Court of Appeal on Tuesday.

In welcoming the appeal judgment, the National Federation Party (NFP), Fiji Labour Party (FLP) and the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) raised their concerns on the role of Mr Saneem.

A judgment delivered by a full bench of the Fiji Court of Appeal stated that Mr Saneem must comply with all the decisions and directions given to him concerning the performance of his functions by the Fiji Electoral Commission.

The Court of Appeal also declared that the time limit of the three days in Section 30 (5) and Section 31 (4) of the Electoral Decree ended at midnight on the third day.

In a statement, NFP president Tupou Draunidalo said the Fijian people deserved the highest ethical and professional standards from its election officials leading to the 2018 General Election.

"I again state, it appears that the SOE Mohammed Saneem has not displayed the competence, neutrality, non-partisanship and maturity to hold the all-important constitutional role he has been given," Ms Draunidalo said.

"It was an unprecedented move by any Supervisor of Elections in the history of Fiji's governance, who outrightly defied the Electoral Commission and rushed into having a ballot draw which favoured the political party of the ruling government.

"The Prime Minister should retake the responsibility of elections and ensure that responsibility is for merely administrative purposes like that of all previous prime ministers.

"He must ensure that this responsibility is not used to influence nor control the independence of the Fiji Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office."

SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka said the party was concerned Mr Saneem made submissions earlier this year to the Parliamentary Committee on Law, Justice and Human Rights that he be allowed not to follow directives of the commission.

"The supervisor is also facing complaints about his impartiality and his behaviour towards journalists and members of the public, particularly on twitter, where he questioned the right of citizens to seek redress.

"Such behaviour and this recent ruling put in question his suitability for this high office," Mr Rabuka said.

FLP leader Mahendra Chaudhry called on Mr Saneem to resign from the position.

"I don't know whether he should be now asked to resign. Because of the nature of issues involved here, I think it will only be right for Mr Saneem to vacate the office," Mr Chaudhry said.

He added the party would be pursuing the matter further in relation to the disqualification of one of its candidates, Steven Singh from contesting the 2014 General Election.

Several attempts made to get comments from Mr Saneem remained unsuccessful when this edition went to press last night.








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