Assurances by Attorney General Aiyaz Khaiyum that the voter registration process under his Ministry will be apolitical are absurd, says FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.
Under Fiji’s Electoral Act and the Electoral Registration Regulations, voter registration is the sole responsibility of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections.
Why then should the Attorney General insist on keeping it under his charge? What is his agenda? Why is the position of the Supervisor of Elections being kept vacant?
It is not appropriate that an army officer is to head the Voter Registration Logistical team. We also question the involvement of Australian and New Zealand consultants in an obviously unacceptable arrangement which is neither transparent nor in accordance with the statute.
It has been reported that an Australian electoral operations consultant Mr William Hogan is a member of the logistical team along with Mr Mark Jones, manager operations at the Electoral Enrolment Centre in New Zealand.
“The registration process as structured does not have the confidence of the people. It is not open, transparent or independent,” said Mr Chaudhry.
To give credibility and transparency to the process, the statutory provisions must be adopted, Mr Chaudhry said. This would require the President to appoint an Electoral Commission after holding appropriate consultations with stakeholders.
The Commission so established should be charged with the responsibility for registration of voters and the conduct of general elections.
The Electoral Commission should be empowered to appoint a Supervisor of Elections and to take charge of all matters relating to the electoral processes.