FEO dismisses NFP complaints against ruling FijiFirst party

Registrar of Political Parties Mohammed Saneem. Picture: FT FILE

A complaint by the National Federation Party (NFP) in relation to an alleged possible breach of section 113 (2) of the Electoral Act that prohibits any public officer to conduct campaign activities has been dismissed by the Fijian Elections Office (FEO).

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem said after a “thorough evaluation” of the complaint by the NFP and the responses received from FijiFirst and the Acting Permanent Secretary for Communications, it found:

  • the NFP had made incorrect references to the venue for the press conference. The venue of the press conference was held in level 10, Ro Lalabalavu House;
  • the press conference was in relation to the ‘inflation mitigation payment of $180’ and it was held by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in his capacity as the Attorney General and Minister, and not in his capacity as the General Secretary of FijiFirst;
  • that as the A-G, Mr Sayed-Khaiyum had responded to media queries in relation to relevant provisions of the Electoral Act, and in doing so, criticised Prof Biman Prasad and that was within his capacity as a Minister to address and clarify certain information needed by the media; and that action “cannot be ordinarily viewed as campaign”;
  • the AG and Minister did not post on the Fijian Government Facebook page and he also did not authorise the posts that were made subsequent to the press conference.

Mr Saneem said according to the Acting PS for Communications, “the posts are in line with regular coverage of government events and media conferences”.

He said the actions of Mr Sayed-Khaiyum did not qualify as ‘campaign’ within the definition of the Electoral Act, the NFP’s assertions in relation to a possible breach of section 113(2) of the Electoral Act also failed.

He said in any event, the Acting Permanent Secretary for Communications also confirmed that Mr Sayed-Khaiyum did not create or approve the posts on Facebook.

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