29 Mar 2014

Fiji elections set for September

7:20 am on 29 March 2014

Fiji's electoral decree is largely fair but excludes some groups from election-related activity, a New Zealand-based Pacific Studies lecturer says.

The country's military rulers have set 17 September as the date for Fiji's first democratic elections in nearly eight years.

Former parliamentary buildings in Suva.

Former parliamentary buildings in Suva. Photo: AAP

The Fiji government also announced Mohammed Saneem would be the new Supervisor of Elections. He will resign as Acting Permanent Secretary for Justice to take up the role.

The government said it welcomed proposals from foreign nations and agencies to carry out observer processes before, during and after the election.

Auckland University sociologist Steven Ratuva said a clause in the electoral decree stating organisations that receive aid from foreign sources are banned from participating in election-related activity is concerning.

Dr Ratuva said this would exclude many of civil society groups, such as the outspoken Citizen's Constitutional Forum.

"The Citizen's Constitutional Forum - whose fundamental aim is to engage in dialogue towards building a democratic society - an election is very much part of the kind of work they deal with. I mean, the CCF has been under a lot of political pressure, so this time, with a new decree in place, the pressure's going to be much more."