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The Fijian Government has welcomed the report from the Multinational Observer Group (MOG) that has deemed the 2018 general election fully credible and an accurate representation of the genuine will of the Fijian people.
Fiji’s Attorney General and Election Minister Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum in a statement said “this finding represents another historic occasion in our young democracy, as we have successfully met the high bar set by the free and fair General Election conducted in 2014.
“Free, fair and credible elections are the heart and soul of a truly democratic system. It should be a point of pride for every Fijian that Fiji has once again held an election that has met high international standards and that has delivered a Government freely chosen by the majority of Fijians.
“We sincerely thank all of those who participated in the MOG, and particularly thank the Group Coordinator, Alice Cawte, for her leadership on the ground in the lead-up and during our election in 2018. The MOG’s mandate was clear and transparent, and Cawte’s team delivered an independent, professional, and thorough assessment of our 2018 Election. We also thank Australia, India and Indonesia who served as the co-leads of the MOG effort for a second time,” Khaiyum said.
He said the Fijian Government has invested historic levels of funding towards the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) and the Electoral Commission in the interest of enhancing Fiji’s electoral democracy.
“The findings of the MOG are a well-deserved validation of the hard work of the leadership and staff of the FEO and the Electoral Commission in delivering an election that has met high international standards in fairness and credibility. We want to congratulate the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammad Saneem, for delivering an election widely heralded by the general public as the most voter-friendly electoral process ever conducted in our country.
“We also extend our gratitude to the many countries and development partners who assisted our election effort and thank them for the consistent confidence they have shown in our electoral democracy.
“The MOG findings stand as yet another proud affirmation of the electoral system set out under our Fijian Constitution. We were proud that the MOG Report recognised the removal of ethnic voting blocs and the establishment of a single voter registration system as key moves to align Fiji with international best practice. This remains an important point. We can never afford to forget and forgo the lessons of our history that remind us that without these vital protections, there can be no true and credible elections in Fiji,” Khaiyum said in a statement.
He said the MOG report put forward a number of worthwhile recommendations which the government will consider.
“As per practice, the MOG Report will be tabled before Parliament. In our next session, we will be making a ministerial statement in Parliament on the full contents of the report.
“It is the civic duty of every Fijian to participate fully in our democracy by voting in our elections. So above all else, we are grateful to the tens of thousands of Fijians who braved the bad weather on polling day to cast their ballots. Regardless of how you cast your vote, the confidence you have shown in our electoral system has strengthened our democracy. We commit to sustained investment towards building our capacity to continue delivering free, fair and credible elections, thereby cementing the great achievement of the Fijian Constitution for the benefit of all Fijians,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Federation Party (NFP)believes the current Government will never implement the recommendations of the Multinational Observer Group (MOG) on the conduct of future elections.
NFP Leader Professor Biman Prasad says the Party’s belief is based on the fact that scant regard was paid to the MOG Report as well as the Report of the Electoral Commission following the 2014 general elections.
“The Reports were referred to the parliamentary standing committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights but he committee did not report back to parliament for 28 months from then until 1st October 2018 when parliament was dissolved”.
“The MOG Report should have noted this but failed to do so. This is most unfortunate”.
“And this MOG Report will face similar fate because the recommendations if implemented will prevent government from giving handouts and freebies once parliament is dissolved and writs for elections are issued,” he said.
SOURCE: FIJI GOVT/NFP/PACNEWS
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