The Fiji Labour Party has lodged a strong protest with the Supervisor of Elections against his sudden decision to revoke the appointment DO Macuata Abdul Ayub as assistant returning officer for the Labasa Rural Indian Communal Constituency by-election a day ahead of the polls.
Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the removal of Mr. Ayub at the eleventh hour was both suspicious and unlawful under Electoral Act 18 of 1998.
With polling in the by-election due on December 6, Mr. Ayub’s appointment was rescinded on December 4. He is being replaced as assistant returning officer by the DO Bua, Ratu Orisi Baleitavea.
Mr. Chaudhry has taken the matter up with both the Supervisor of Elections and Commissioner Northern who is the returning officer for the Saturday polls.
He was informed by the Supervisor of Elections that Mr. Ayub was removed from the position because he had gone to Suva without the permission of the Commissioner Northern, leaving unattended work relating to the by-election.
Mr. Chaudhry said he had spoken to Mr. Ayub who denied he had gone to Suva without permission. Mr. Ayub said he had to go to Suva on official business just for the day and had notified the Commissioner Northern about the trip.
He had gone in the morning to collect money to pay polling officials involved in the by-election and was back in the afternoon. Mr. Ayub said all electoral work for the Saturday polls was up to schedule and nothing had been left unattended.
The appointment of DO Bua as assistant returning officer breaches the Electoral Act which requires all appointments to be Gazetted.
Section 3 subsection 10 of the Electoral Act 18 of 1998 states as follows:
” Public notice must be given in the Gazette of all appointments made under this section”.
Mr. Chaudhry said the removal of Mr. Ayub at the last minute was “most suspicious”. He has written to the Supervisor of Elections stating his strong objections to this development.
Mr. Ayub can be contacted for comments on Mobile Ph. 9949863
The Supervisor of Elections is in Labasa and can be contacted on Mobile Ph: 9279995.