26 Feb 2019

Rabuka calls MOG election report 'superficial, shallow and generic'

1:54 pm on 26 February 2019

Fiji's opposition leader has called the Multinational Observer Group report on the 2018 election, "superficial, shallow and generic".

A voter in Fiji seeking confirmation about where to vote

A voter in Fiji seeking confirmation about where to vote Photo: RNZ Pacific / Koroi Hawkins

The report described the election as "credible".

But Sitiveni Rabuka said the report lacks substance and demonstrates little understanding of Fiji's social and political backdrop.

The Multinational Observer Group, comprising 77 observers from ten countries, released its final report last week.

The 71-page document contains 21 key recommendations.

However, Mr Rabuka said it doesn't reference recommendations from the 2014 election report which he said the government ignored.

"The Constitution, the Electoral Act, those are the things they should have looked at. The social-political situation in Fiji and how adequate and applicable the system of elections was," said Sitiveni Rabuka.

Mr Rabuka said the report didn't consider the vital democratic mechanisms needed to bring about free and fair elections.

Fiji's SODELPA leader, Sitiveni Rabuka.

Fiji's SODELPA leader, Sitiveni Rabuka. Photo: RNZ / Koroi Hawkins

He also said the report on failed to take the country's social-political backdrop into account.

Mr Rabuka pointed to the lack of awareness among Fiji's rural voters, saying the country's rural population is politically disconnected, unmotivated and uninformed.

He said, for example, the observers failed to note the effect of the sugarcane cutting season on the polls.

Many men are away from home then and unable to cast even a postal ballot, Mr Rabuka said.

"Many of them didn't even know they were going to be cutting cane at that time. They didn't know until October when the election date was going to be. By that time they were already in the sugarcane fields."

Sitiveni Rabuka said he was pleased the report recognised the need for candidates' political parties to be identified on official election documents.