16 Sep 2014

Government billboards still up during Fiji blackout

2:36 pm on 16 September 2014

Questions have been raised in Fiji about the continued display of public notices with large photos of the Prime Minister during a so-called blackout on campaign advertising.

For the two days before Fiji goes to the polls for the first time in more than eight years tomorrow, all political advertisements and reporting have been banned.

The Media Industry Development Authority is monitoring journalists' output during this time.

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Photo: RNZ / Philippa Tolley

Its head, Ashwin Raj, says the large images of the Prime Minister alongside road safety messages are allowed as they relate to state roles, not political ones.

"These are functionaries of the state and it's incumbent on the media to be able to disambiguate state functionaries and their daily quotidian nature of their work from advocating for a particular political party or particular political stance."

There has been at least one complaint about political parties not taking down campaign banners.

Fiji's police commissioner says good security needs to be in place ahead of the country's elections given its history of coups.

3,000 officers will be involved in the polling process.

Phillippa Tolley reports from Suva.

"The Commissioner Ben Groenewald says his primary concern is to make sure the election is free and fair. He has already said he will call in the military if needs be to help keep the peace. Some people are worried about the phase after the elections but he says he has had no indication of any serious security threats."

Fiji Minister Responsible for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Fiji Minister Responsible for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum Photo: RNZI Philippa Tolley