Speech by Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Mr. Suresh Chandra for the “Briefing by the SOE, Mr. Mohammed Saneem on preparations towards the 2022 Fiji General Elections” to the International Community (via ZOOM) at 11.30am on Monday 20 September, 2021.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are aware, we will be approaching the 2022 General Election which is scheduled to be held anytime between 9th of July 2022 to 9th of January 2023. As such, it has been part of our practice that we provide an update to the international community as important stakeholders being donor partners as well as affiliates of Fiji on the progress as well as plan in approaching the general election. Whilst this maybe very novel for some of us, it is a practice we have adopted since 2014, we feel that it is necessary considering Fiji is still a developing electoral democracy. The plan that we have in place are indicative of the actual event that will take place subject to change as when require based on the circumstances. However, overall, it is intended to give you an indication of an extend to which we will prepare for the next general election. The Electoral Commission in undertaking the supervisory role will be carrying out a thorough monitoring and compliance perform function, in doing so we will be ensuring that the activities that are necessarily required for the conduct of free and fair elections in Fiji are carried out by the team at the Fijian Elections Office with utmost care and diligence.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I also draw your attention to certain debates that are currently taking place in the media in Fiji concerning the Voter List. The Electoral Commission is in the process of carrying out an independent audit of the Voter List using preferably an international partner so as to be able to confirm that the Voter List that will be used in the 2022 general election complies as far as practicable to highest standard of accuracy. We will be working with partners, we will come forward to seek assistance from development partners so that we engage with a suitable international agency that carries out the functions of auditing the voter list so that we can assign it to that particular agency for the next general election. The Fijian Elections Office is also carrying out extensive verification works on the data in the National Register of Voters so that it is able to keep the register up to date and in confirmation with accepted international standards.
The second matter I would like to speak about ladies and gentlemen is the difference between the data maintained in the national register of voters as against the data published by the Fiji Bureau of Statistics. I agree with the Supervisor of Elections who in the recent media conference stated that the data will be different due to the different methodologies used to collect the data. As some of you may be aware this was an argument that was considered by MOG in the 2018 General Election and the MOG also appreciated that the data collection mechanisms for the census as against the National register of voters is different and therefore the numbers will also be different. The purpose is also very different, now ladies and gentlemen, the Supervisor of Elections did issue a very comprehensive statement on this and you may be able to access it on the Fijian Elections Office facebook page for further understanding.
However, as far as The Electoral Commission is concerned we unanimously agreed that the numbers of the census will be different from that of the National register of Voters and we are convinced that there are sufficient mechanisms in place by the Fijian Elections Office to ensure that there is thorough adjudication in cleaning of the voter list to ensure that the voter list is cleaned, accurate and verifiable at all times.
The third matter I wish to raise is in terms of the next General Election, the Electoral Commission welcomes opportunities to work with projects funded by donor agencies to promote free and fair elections in Fiji.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I will not take more of your time. I’m sure you are all interested in the presentation that follows as we demonstrate to you our plans for the conduct of the 2022 General Election. I would like to now handover to the Supervisor of Elections Mr Saneem for him to take you through the presentation for the planning for the 2022 General Election.
Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu