Opening Remarks on behalf of the PIANZEA Network at the BRIDGE Workshop

EC Chairperson: Ms. Barbara Malimali

Tuesday 19 September 2023


Mr. Alpha Bah UN Resident Coordinator Officer in Charge;
Mr. Henry Cocker Acting Director for Governance and Engagement Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat;
Fellow Senior Representatives and Officials from the PIANZEA Network;
Representatives of Government Organisations, Pacific and UN Agencies and CSO’s;

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka, Pacific Greetings and a very good morning to each and every one of you.

I am delighted and honoured to speak to you all this morning as the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Republic of Fiji and on behalf of the PIANZEA Network, to express our heartfelt appreciation for your presence here in Suva over the next few days. Whether you’ve travelled a short distance or crossed the vast Pacific Ocean to be here, your commitment is deeply cherished. I kindly ask that we acknowledge one another’s dedication with a hearty round of applause (pause for applause).

As we assemble here today, we find ourselves in a remarkable position—an opportunity to share experiences, knowledge, and expertise, all with the aim of fortifying the electoral processes that form the bedrock of our respective democracies. This workshop is a testament to the collaborative spirit and partnerships that define the Pacific region. I am confident that the insights and discussions that will unfold in the days ahead will be invaluable in our collective endeavour to enhance electoral integrity and inclusivity.

Our region, marked by its rich tapestry of cultures, languages, and geographic complexities, presents us with unique electoral dynamics. However, it is precisely within our diversity that we discover our greatest strengths and resilience. The commitment demonstrated by each electoral management body and our respected stakeholders present here, in ensuring elections that are free, fair, and transparent, mirrors our shared dedication to democratic ideals. It is a commitment that transcends borders and unites us in a common purpose.

In conclusion, I extend my sincere gratitude to all participants, our facilitators, and the inter-agency organizers and secretariat for making this workshop a reality. Let us seize this opportunity to reinforce our bonds of cooperation and chart a course that leads to even more robust and resilient electoral systems.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your unwavering dedication to democracy is deeply appreciated, and I eagerly anticipate the productive discussions and collaborations that await us. Together, we possess the potential to leave a lasting imprint on the democratic landscape of the Pacific region.

Thank you and Vinaka vaka levu.