20 May 2014

Fiji NGOs to meet Electoral Commission

11:49 am on 20 May 2014

Non-governmental organisations in Fiji are expected to meet the Electoral Commission today to discuss how a controversial Electoral Decree provision will be enforced.

Section 115 restricts any group receiving foreign funding from campaigning on election issues, which includes organising debates, meetings or publishing information.

About six weeks ago, the NGOs requested that the provision be removed.

The head of the Citizens Constitutional Forum, Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says he expects both the Elections Office and the Electoral Commission will say they are powerless to amend the provision.

"The Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office must comply with the Electoral Decree. Apparently they are admitting they are powerless to do anything about that, and any submissions to change the legislation need to be directed to the Minister of Elections. That to us is a violation of the independence of the Electoral Commission."

Reverend Akuila Yabaki says the police are in charge of enforcing the provision, not the Elections Office or the Elections Commission.

He says there is nothing stopping the police from taking a broader interpretation as to what constitutes an election issue.