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Saneem clarifies billboards issue

Mere Naleba
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

SUPERVISOR of Elections Mohammed Saneem says the law does not define election campaign periods for political parties.

This after Opposition spokesperson for defence and national security, Mosese Bulitavu, claimed the FijiFirst party breached the laws that defined campaign period for this year's general election.

Mr Bulitavu made reference to FijiFirst party's billboards that are on display in several locations around the country, saying in a way, FFP was politically influencing Fijians ahead of the general election.

However, Mr Saneem, in a statement, said Mr Bulitavu failed to follow the complaints mechanism set up by the Electoral Commission and also failed to particularise the breaches.

"The electoral complaints mechanism is the most appropriate framework to address any such matters," Mr Saneem said.

"This is why it is important that such matters are raised with the FEO and Electoral Commission.

"We can assist individuals in properly understanding the legal framework. The law does not define campaign period, as he incorrectly alludes."

Mr Bulitavu said the Opposition wanted the matter to be determined by the Electoral Commission and the SOE and for the FijiFirst party to be taken to task.

"It should not have escaped the attention and focus of these institutions that FijiFirst is putting up large billboard displays to influence the voters in the upcoming elections of 2018," Mr Bulitavu said.

"This is a gross breach of the electoral laws which define the campaign period."

On January 8 last month, the National Federation Party lodged a complaint with the commission regarding the billboards, stating that Mr Saneem was yet to designate the public places approved for placement of campaign material, as the SOE would most probably await the issue of the writ of elections.

In the complaint, NFP stated the FijiFirst party had breached sections 112 (1), 112(3) and 117 of the Electoral Act.

In responding to the complaint, commission's chairman Suresh Chandra said sections 112 and 117 applied after the announcement of an election or a by-election.

"Currently, there is no election in progress and as such, the Electoral Commission finds that section 112 and 117 have not been breached," Mr Chandra said.

"The Electoral Commission, therefore, finds no merit in the complaint and dismisses the same."

Questions sent to the FijiFirst party yesterday via electronic mail remained unaswered when this edition went to press.

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