Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s confidence is totally misplaced, if she believes that one-day elections in Fiji in September is achievable, says Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
“One day polling requires massive organizational capacity and resources which the Elections Office will be unable to build in the short time before the polls.
“We are now effectively less than six months from the promised elections. It should be noted that the Elections Office was moth-balled for eight years. It will have to start from scratch to have all preparations in place for the one-day polls in September,” he said.
It is still in the process of recruiting key staff to assist in the planning, organisation and management of the elections. After recruitment, they will have to undergo intensive and specialized training.
We don’t have a Supervisor of Elections as yet who should take responsibility for the oversight of the elections and the Elections Office.
There is still no Electoral legislation setting out the rules and guidelines for the elections. Political parties and the rest of the nation remain in the dark about how the polls will be conducted and the requirements governing it.
Polling stations have not been finalized as yet and they are still juggling around with the number that will be needed for the one-day polls. The initial number of 3000 announced by the Attorney General has now been reduced to 2000.
These are serious challenges confronting the conduct of free, fair and credible elections. They cannot be brushed aside by people who do not have inside knowledge of the decrepit state of our electoral machinery.
Thousands off voters will be unable to get to the polling stations to vote if one-day polling is forced on the people. This in itself will render the elections a nullity.
19 February 2014