Chandra resigns – Party leaders write to COC
21 November, 2021, 10:02 am
Suva lawyer Suresh Chandra has resigned as chair of the Electoral Commission.
Mr Chandra made the shocking revelation during the signing of the Terms of Reference between the Fijian Elections Office, the Pacific Disability Forum and the National Council for Persons with Disabilities at the Grand Pacific Hotel in Suva yesterday.
He said he had told the President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, of his decision and that yesterday was his final day in office.
“It is with a heavy heart that I wish to advise that I have informed His Excellency, the President and the Constitutional Offices Commission that I am stepping down from my appointment as chair of the Electoral Commission,” he said.
Mr Chandra said he was honoured to be appointed for two terms as chairman of the Electoral Commission and always strived to uphold his appointment with dignity, pride and honour.
“I would like to thank His Excellency the President, the Constitutional Offices Commission and the people of Fiji, for entrusting me with this tremendous responsibility.
“I would like to wish the Electoral Commission, the Fijian Elections Office and the people of Fiji all the success in the upcoming general elections.”
Mr Chandra was first appointed chairman of the Electoral Commission in 2017 and was reappointed last year for another three-year term.
On Friday, three political party leaders said they had written to the Constitutional Offices Commission (COC) asking for Mr Chandra’s removal.
Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry, Unity Fiji party leader Savenaca Narube and Freedom Alliance party leader Jagath Karunaratne had called on the COC to appoint a tribunal to investigate Mr Chandra’s removal in accordance with Section 137 (3) (a) (i) of the Constitution.
The party leaders claimed Mr Chandra did not hold a current practising certificate as a lawyer.
The leaders also claimed it had been made known to them that Mr Chandra had been practising law on a conditional practising certificate over the past two years as a result of issues arising from losses from his law firm’s trust account.
They had called on the President to suspend Mr Chandra pending the completion of the Tribunal’s investigation and findings under Section 137 (4) of the Constitution.
“We urge you to pay special attention to the recent complaints on the conduct and administration of the office of the Supervisor of Elections and now, the issues surrounding the chairperson of the Commission,” the leaders said.
Questions sent to the Constitutional Offices Commission on Friday had not been answered when this edition went to press last night.