The Fiji Times
Dual citizenship issue discussed
SHOULD dual citizenship holders be allowed to contest and participate as voters in the municipal elections scheduled to be held in the second half of next year?
That was an issue discussed at length at the Local Government Electoral Process public consultations conducted in Suva on Monday.
Suva resident Satish Kumar said it was unfair to exclude dual citizenship holders from participating in the municipal elections.
Questioning the logic behind the law, Mr Kumar said a person holding dual citizenship should be allowed to contest if they meet all other criteria.
“If a dual citizen meets all the criteria that you have, why should that person be deprived of his or her right to contest?” Mr Kumar said.
Former district officer Vishwa Deo, echoing similar sentiments, said most dual citizens had properties in towns and cities, therefore they spend a considerable amount of time in these municipalities to ensure their properties were well kept, adding that dual citizens contribute immensely to their municipalities.
Fiji National University lecturer Mosmi Bhim said dual citizens should be allowed to contest the election only if they were ratepayers and had been in the municipality for a period of between 12 and 24 months.
“They cannot stay overseas and just come here to contest elections, that wouldn’t be fair on those who are staying here for the long term,” Ms Bhim said.
In response to the suggestion, Fiji Elections Office manager legal Mesake Dawai said the current recommended amendments to the Local Government Act 1972 mirrors the Electoral Act and the Constitution in disallowing dual-citizens from contesting elections.
He said there were similar laws in the Electoral Act which do not permit Members of Parliament from holding dual citizenship.