Police, Army & Elections office must be independent

  • 11th October 2005
  • 2005
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FLP backs the army and the Police in their fight to maintain the independence of the security forces.

The conflict comes in the wake of a move by the Ministry for Home Affairs to control Budget allocated to the two arms of the security force.

Both Army Commander Frank Bainimarama and Police Commissioner Andrew Hughes
are concerned that this would undermine the independence of their office and have been holding meetings to have the decision removed.

Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said it was totally unacceptable for the SDL Government to exercise control over or influence the activities of the two institutions through a hold on their budgets.

“Mr. Hughes and Commodore Bainimarama must be given total administrative and financial control of the budgets of their respective agencies,” he said, pointing out that government must recognize the independence of the two institutions and that they must operate without ministerial control.

This was particularly so in the light of government’s determination to foist the Amnesty Bill on an unwilling nation, as well as the coming general elections, he said.

Likewise, the independence of the Supervisor of Elections office must also be respected and its budget should not be controlled by the Prime Minister’s Office, Chaudhry charged.

This would be tantamount to holding the Elections office to ransom to manipulation by the SDL Government, with the Supervisor of Elections becoming just just a puppet on a string, he warned.

“I am alarmed that a constitutionally independent body like the Elections Office has its purse strings controlled by the Prime Minister’s office. This, again, will invite justified criticism of political interference and control – we are already seeing this with the current voter registration process where serious anomalies have been exposed with all aspects of the registration process.”

Issues regarding the independence of the Electoral office and anomalies in voter registeration will be raised with the chairman of the Electoral Commission, Graham Leung when Chaudhry meets him later this week.