13 Dec 2022

Observers readied for Fiji election

2:45 pm on 13 December 2022

Observers of the Fiji election have been briefed by the Supervisor of Elections ahead of polling, which begins tomorrow.

Mohammed Saneem took the observers through a comprehensive presentation on the elections process as well as the preparations of the Fijian Elections Office leading up to the issue of writs in late October.

Saneem said the observers will be deployed from today to various parts of the country where they will be observing electoral processes on the day of polling.

He said it was appropriate to introduce the observers to the election so that they have contextual knowledge, cultural familiarity and understanding of election processes as well as the efforts undertaken in the preparation.

The Fijian Elections Office accredited 97 observers from 16 countries, including two regional organisations.

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the Multinational Observer Group was an important initiative to support the people of Fiji and the international community to have confidence in the election outcome.

Fiji's Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem.

Fiji's Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Koroi Hawkins

Fire damages polling venue

Saneem said his office would release information tonight on alternative voting arrangements for voters registered to cast their ballot at the Vatuwaqa Primary School in Suva.

Yesterday morning, a major fire broke out at the school which is one of 855 election day polling venues.

Despite polling due to begin tomorrow, Saneem said there was no need to panic.

"We are going to try and have it ready for you by tonight so that information can be published for tomorrow. There is no need to panic, we will be making alternative arrangements with suitable locations so that voters are still able to go and vote without any disruption", he said.

1,448 voters are registered to vote at the venue.

Saneem said the 2018 election was impacted by bad weather and so his staff were planning for the worst but hoping for the best.

"We will be mindful of that. And we'll deal with it on a case by case basis. If there is polling to be relocated, we will definitely do that. And we're hoping for very good weather today and tomorrow and the day after, so that we don't have a repeat of 2018. Obviously some areas have their flood prone so we cannot put the polling station too far away. It will still mean the voters can make it through it. So we just have to deal with it on a case by case basis and pray for good weather", he said.

Voting starts at 7:30am on Wednesday and will close at 6:00pm or after the last voter in the queue at 6:00pm has voted.

More than 692,000 people have registered to cast their votes to elect 55 members of parliament.