‘Con­cerns About Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions Bias And Mis­takes in 2018 Voter Rolls

Fiji Sun - - Comment - Si­tiveni Rabuka Feed­back: jy­otip@fi­jisun.com.fj

Si­tiveni Rabuka is Party Leader of the So­cial Demo­cratic Lib­eral Party (SODELPA) and former Prime Min­is­ter. The views and opin­ions ex­pressed in the ar­ti­cle are those of Si­tiveni Rabuka and not of the Fiji Sun. This is the fourth of a se­ries of ar­ti­cles by Si­tiveni Rabuka on con­cerns from po­lit­i­cal par­ties on the 2018 gen­eral elec­tions

“I bet they will not even be able to have polling agents at all the polling sta­tions. They should fo­cus on that.” ~ Mo­ham­mad Sa­neem, Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions, 17 Au­gust 2018, at the Train­ing of Train­ers for PrePoll (avail­able on­line at https://www.feo.org.fj/state­mentby-the-su­per­vi­sor-of-elec­tions-mr­mo­hammed-sa­neem-train­ing-of­train­ers-for-pre-poll-17-08-18-suva/)

Six po­lit­i­cal par­ties, Free­dom Al­liance, Fiji Labour Party, Na­tional Fed­er­a­tion Party (NFP), Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP), Unity Fiji and So­cial Demo­cratic Lib­eral Party (SODELPA) have been rais­ing is­sues and con­cerns re­gard­ing the gen­eral elec­tions and whether it will be free and fair. The above state­ment quoted above, ut­tered by the Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions is un­for­tu­nately in­dica­tive of his ar­ro­gance, bias and politi­cised at­ti­tude. His bi­ased re­sponse is ob­vi­ous in the re­sponses to our let­ters and our gen­uine at­tempts for con­sul­ta­tion and di­a­logue. To date, we still await a re­sponse from the Elec­toral Com­mis­sion to our let­ter of 16th Au­gust. One of the 19 is­sues we have raised with the Com­mis­sion is our re­quest for a lo­gis­tics work­shop. The work­shop will en­able par­ties to train the es­ti­mated 7500 polling agents needed to cover the 2468 polling sta­tions na­tion­wide in the 2018 elec­tion. While the Elec­toral Of­fice has had three years to re­cruit and train the over 11,000 polling day work­ers who will run the 2018 elec­tions, we are in­formed that the lo­gis­tics work­shop will only be held two weeks af­ter the writ is is­sued - we are ex­pected to train 7,500 agents in a 3 week pe­riod be­fore pre-polling be­gins five weeks af­ter the writ is is­sued, two weeks be­fore vot­ing day. The ques­tion is, how prac­ti­cal is this sug­ges­tion? Un­for­tu­nately, this is the kind of un­fair and bi­ased treat­ment that po­lit­i­cal par­ties re­ceive from the Fiji Elec­tions Of­fice with­out due con­sid­er­a­tion of key con­straints associated with such train­ing. None­the­less, it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to do our best as po­lit­i­cal par­ties de­spite be­ing hob­bled by the Elec­toral De­crees and a bi­ased elec­tions ma­chin­ery. We, there­fore, call on cit­i­zens to put their hands up, and col­lec­tively work to­gether to en­sure our elec­tion is free and fair and held in a trans­par­ent and ac­count­able man­ner. Po­lit­i­cal Par­ties are not ask­ing for spe­cial treat­ment, but to be treated fairly. As we have said since 2014, we want a level play­ing field, where the ref­eree is un­bi­ased, and

‘None­the­less, it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to do our best as po­lit­i­cal par­ties de­spite be­ing hob­bled by the Elec­toral De­crees and a bi­ased elec­tions ma­chin­ery. We, there­fore, call on cit­i­zens to put their hands up, and col­lec­tively work to­gether to en­sure our elec­tion is free and fair and held in a trans­par­ent and ac­count­able man­ner.’ - Si­tiveni Rabuka

the goal­posts are not be­ing moved con­stantly. The least we could hope for is that the Elec­toral Of­fice is in­de­pen­dent, yet here we have the Su­per­vi­sor of Elec­tions him­self wish­ing and hop­ing that Par­ties are not able to have enough agents to ob­serve at the 2,468 polling sta­tions. Let’s prove Sa­neem wrong Fiji, join us to­day and be­come a Polling Agent to ob­serve the 2018 elec­tions.

Con­cerns about er­rors in 2018 Voter Roll

I am also gravely con­cerned about er­rors in the 2018 Voter Roll. Par­ties are re­quired to pay $1,000 to re­ceive a PDF copy of the Roll. We are dis­mayed to dis­cover that the Roll re­leased on 1 Au­gust 2018, shows 65,000 vot­ers moved from Tailevu and Ra Prov­inces, to Ka­davu Prov­ince. In to­tal, we see that 208 polling sta­tions have been wrongly al­lo­cated from Tailevu and Ra Prov­inces, to Ka­davu Prov­ince. That is 65,000+ vot­ers wrongly al­lo­cated to the East­ern Di­vi­sion. See http://bit.ly/Elec­tionCon­cerns for the full list of sta­tions wrongly al­lo­cated and screenshots of the record for each of th­ese sta­tions from the Voter Roll is­sued by the Elec­tions Of­fice on Au­gust 1, 2018. We do not con­sider this a mi­nor er­ror and we now have grave doubts about the pro­claimed readi­ness of the Elec­tions Of­fice for elec­tions when th­ese kinds of mis­takes are be­ing made.

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