Launch of the Pilot Community Elections Advocate Training of Trainers Community  Engagement Project  

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission 

Launch of the Pilot Community Elections Advocate Training of Trainers Community  Engagement Project  

Tanoa Waterfront Hotel, Lautoka 

Date: 19/04/22 

Time: 9:00am 

The Supervisor of Elections; 

United Nations Development Programme staff; 

Training Facilitators; 

Representatives of various community groups and 

Members of the media 

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all. 

We have had two (2) general elections under the current electoral system. Until now, Fiji has  had elections based on the ‘first past the post system’, ‘limited preferential system’ and now  the proportional representation’ system. 

As the Electoral Commission [EC], it is our job to create and disseminate information about  the electoral system and Fiji’s electoral processes. We firmly believe that only through direct  and crude information, we can build an active, informed and confident voter population in  Fiji. 

I am here today to launch this ambitious initiative that should contribute to building the  stock when it comes to our efforts. We will directly train community based representatives  to become Election Awareness Trainers. These Community Elections Advocates will then  conduct a 15-minute awareness session with their community members. 

We decided to be strategic about this. The Fijian Elections Office [FEO] has already  conducted its Nationwide Registration of Voters Drive and this new initiative will add to the  ongoing awareness efforts. It will add to the transfer of information and continue to build on  the information that is already out there. 

What better than having a conversation about one of the most important functions we have  as citizens of Fiji than to have that conversation with your friend, colleague or community  representative. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility and we should know about it.  We should be the ones talking about it! 

I would like to acknowledge the collaboration of the UNDP with the FEO in facilitating this  critical community-based initiative. Making elections a topic of discussion in the grass-roots  and arming people with direct crude information is certainly the way to go! 

Before I conclude, I want to wish all the participants that have been selected and who will be  trained all the best and I am confident that you will be able to carry out your roles diligently  and effectively. 

With that being said, I now officially launch the Pilot Community Elections Advocate Training  of Trainers session.  

Vinaka Vakalevu

Signing of Agreement Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Mr Mukesh Nand

 Signing Agreement with the Australian High Commission for Funding of Audit of National Register of Voters 

FEO HQ

Suva

31/03/2022

His Excellency Mr John Feakes, the Australian High Commissioner;

Representatives from the Australian High Commission and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and;  

Supervisor of Elections, Mr Mohammed Saneem

Bula Vinaka and warm greeting from the Electoral Commission[EC].

Today we are gathered here for a very important event that will see the continuation of the partnership and bond shared between the Australian Government and the Electoral Commission.  

Ladies and Gentlemen, the assistance worth $165,000AUD signed today between the EC and the Australian High Commission will help in the funding of the Audit of the National Register of Voters

The National Register of Voters is an essential element for the FEO in preparations towards an election and the FEO is responsible for the registration and maintenance of the Register. 

The Electoral Commission (EC) is constituted as an independent, non-partisan authority that has responsibility for the registration of voters and the conduct of free and fair elections in accordance with written laws governing elections in Fiji. The EC has many roles and one of them is the overall custodian of the Voter Register. 

The EC had wished to implement a significant recommendation by the Multinational Observer Group for the 2018 General Election which recommended that the National Register of Voters in Fiji should be audited by an Independent Auditor. 

As part of its responsibilities, the EC requires that the Nation Register of Voters is to be audited using internationally accepted standards by an independent agency in the area of elections. 

In October last year, the EC had reached out to the Australian Government and sought assistance to enable the EC to carry out this significant process ahead of the 2022 General Election.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today’s signing is a testament to the cordial and mutual relationship we have with the Australian Government and I am confident that as the EC Chairperson, this relationship will only continue to grow in years to come.

 The $165,000AUD provided today will facilitate the audit process and allow the EC to make determination on the manner in which the FEO is maintaining the Register and where necessary provide relevant direction to the FEO to improve the ways in which the Register is kept.

At this juncture, I would also like to shed some light on the scope of work that will be undertaken during the Audit of the Voter Register.

The primary scope of work will take place at the FEO and will include the Audit of the Procedures that will evaluate and assess the registration process and the flow of information from data collection to the creation of access points for voters- all the way to the registration of voters and the issuance of the Blue VoterCard.

Another area of focus is the Audit of the IT Systems as well as the Statistical Testing that will assess the quality of the voter register and voters list through the “list to voters” and/or the “people to list” method.

In addition to the above, appropriate recommendations for enhancing the accuracy and inclusiveness of the Voters Register will be provided.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as you know, this year is an important year for the EC and the FEO as we gear up for the 2022 General Election.  Support and assistance like this will go in a long way in enabling the EC and FEO to better prepare for the national exercise. 

We are very grateful for the support the Australian Government has provided to the Elections in Fiji in the past and we continue to appreciate the level of engagement the Australian Electoral Commission has with the FEO in the furtherance of credible Elections in Fiji and also the Pacific.

Thank You. 

Vinaka Vakalevu

Dhanyavad. 

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission Closing Forum

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

 Closing of the Stakeholders Forum on Enhancing Voter Participation 

The Grand Pacific Hotel

Suva

30 March 2022

The Honourable Attorney General;

Representatives of the Political Parties;

And other invited guests;

I would like to thank all of you for attending this Stakeholders Forum on Enhancing Voter Participation.

This forum was organized to hear your views and opinions as we prepare for the upcoming 2022 General Election and I am pleased that we had a very constructive and practicable discussions surrounding on how we all can work together to enhance voter participation in the country.

As I had alluded earlier in the morning, Fiji has transitioned from a compulsory voting jurisdiction to one where voting is voluntary. This changes the dynamics significantly. This is where voter participation is critical and this is where all stakeholders such as political parties, members of the civil society, youths, academia and members of the public play an important role.

Looking at the contributions made by each one of you today, I as the Electoral Commission[EC] Chairperson together with my fellow commissioners, the Supervisor of Elections[SoE] and his team at the Fijian Election Office[FEO] will continue to work together with you in order to enhance voter participation as we prepare for the 2022 General Election.

 We all need to play our part and I am confident that the FEO is on the right track in terms of their voter engagement and participation programs, and initiatives.

Preparing for an Election is no easy task. It involves a lot of planning, strategizing and implementation. Currently, the FEO is conducting its Nationwide Voter Registration Drive and the Know Your Election Campaign which will conclude on 14 April 2022. 

We have already surpassed the 120,000 mark in terms of voter engagement and we are confident that these numbers will continue to grow as we progress further into the drive.  

The ideas and opinions generated today is a collective contribution to review and organize ourselves so that we can drive more voter participation come Election Day.

As we are all aware, the electoral system in Fiji does not provide for a fixed date for the conduct of the General Election. Instead, the election can be called any time from the 9th of July 2022 till the 9th of January 2023. While we do not know the date of election yet, we want everyone to be prepared.

Thank You. 

Vinaka Vakalevu

Dhanyavad. 

 

Kavita Raniga Speech Session 2 Regional EMB Initiatives in Enhancing Voter Participation

Speech by Ms Kavita Raniga 

30/03/2022

Matua Room at the Grand Pacific Hotel

Session Topic: Regional EMB Initiatives in Enhancing Voter Participation

Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen

My name is Kavita Raniga and I am one of the six (6) members of the Electoral Commission. 

Today, I am honoured that I have been given an opportunity to deliver my speech. As the topic is on regional Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs), I will speak on how we, the Electoral Commission (EC) enhances voter participation here in Fiji. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, I will be talking about how the Fiji’s EMB and the strategies put in place to engage voter participation. In order to vote, the precondition is that the vote must be cast by a valid registered voter. Thus, the first step is to register voters. And in Fiji, we do a lot of activities to facilitate this service to the potential voters. 

One major activity is the Nationwide Voter Registration Drive and Know Your Election Campaign conducted by us currently. Together with the FEO teams, the EC have been continuously on the ground visiting communities, villagers, towns and cities and providing voter services directly to people. We thank to the people whom have been taken advantage of these services, and we encourage those yet to come to us. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, since the launch of the drive on February 25 2022, we have received high demand from the public for FEO teams to visit their workplaces, events, Annual General Meetings’ [AGM’s], functions, settlements, villages and communities to conduct voter registrations.

Furthermore, we have received significant number of requests for mobile registrations for those that are unable to visit our Voter Services Centre’s[VSC’s] or registration teams in the field.

Since our awareness and registration drive started, we have reached places such as in Yasawa, Rotuma, Lau Group, Taveuni, Lomaiviti Group, Ovalau, Moturiki, Wakaya and Gau Island to name a few.  

And we are so glad to receive appreciate messages from the public. As an EMB, I guess this is one of the moments that we are looking forward to.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we will continues to advertise widely where, how and when citizens could apply to register or change their existing details and allowing voters to change their Polling Venues. We will provide the said services till the issuance of the Writ. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, we as EMB have tried to reach out to the people in Fiji as much as we can in ways of advertising via national television, radio broadcasting, newspapers, pamphlets, social media, websites and Business House Registration where businesses/organisations can do online booking with us so that a team can send to  your office to register/update the employees VoterCards. This initiative was welcomed by the business sector, and we thank them for their cooperation and enthusiastic. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are also very creative in terms of attracting new voters to register and existing voters to update their information and cards. We provide quizzes to increase voter education and participation specially to encourage youth to vote. We also have the $30,000 Bonanza for voters either to register or to upgrade voter cards/update voter details. 

In terms of voter participation, we have conducted surveys to find out the main causes why people participated in the election as well as the reasons as to why they did not vote. The result of the surveys has allowed us to devise our strategy to maximise that we continue to strive for excellence. On the other hand, the areas where we are lacking in, we try to find constructive solutions to it for the next general election.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are many ways we can come up with on how to enhance voter participation. The above is some of ours in Fiji. I am eager to find our more interesting ideas and schemes that other regional EMBs are using to develop the national interest in elections.

Thank you

Vinaka Vakalevu

-Ends-

EC Chairperson Speech on Session 1 Voter Turnout and Survey

Speech by Electoral Commission Chairperson Mukesh Nand. 

30 March 2022

Session 1: Voter Turnout and Survey 

Matua Conference Room at Grand Pacific Hotel

Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen and welcome to the first session at this critical forum on Voter Participation and Engagement. 

I am excited and looking forward to the presentations that will follow after mine, especially when it comes to looking with data on the turnout and the surveys that followed in the 2018 General Election as well as the surveys that had been done prior to the 2022 Know Your Election (KYE) campaign. 

Whilst we are in the KYE campaign drive right now, it is opportune time for the Election Management Body, Electoral Commission as well as for all relevant stakeholders to understand the nature of the voter base, behaviour of the voting population as well as the aspirations and expectations of all those who will be going to the polls in the 2022 General Election. 

I am particularly interested in looking at reasons as to why the turnout in 2018 General Election decreased. In addition, I am looking forward to the discussion of the trend following in terms of the general interest of the members of the public when it comes to politics, elections and voting altogether. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, these are not the exact signs, however the turnout on Election Day is based on several factors such as the:

  1. Based interest of the voter  
  2. Accessibility options of a polling venue which is provided to the voter 
  3. General atmosphere of security 
  4. The level of information that the voter has received in relation to the contestants in the election 
  5. The personal commitment of the voter in terms of participating in the elections 
  6. Higher levels of education are generally associated with higher rates of voter turnout
  7. Age is an important factor which affects voter turnout

Whilst the list that I have given is long but not comprehensive enough, there are many various reasons that may be minor to major when it comes to determining whether a voter cast his or her vote or not. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, this workshop today will also be giving us some interesting ideas and schemes that various stakeholders will be using to develop the national interest in elections and voting in Fiji. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, having said all of these, I know I have just spoken after the opening ceremony and yet again I am here speaking to you as the first speaker of this forum. I would like to say that when we close this Forum this afternoon, I urge all stakeholders and participants to come up with at least five (5) strategies to enhance the participation of voters in the 2022 General Election. 

I am looking forward to working with you all so that we can try our best to implement these strategies come the next general election.  

Thank You. 

Vinaka Vakalevu

Dhanyavad. 

Opening Speech by Chair for launch of the Forum on Voter participation

Opening Speech by Electoral Commission Chairperson Mukesh Nand. 

30 March 2022 

Stakeholders Forum on Enhancing Voter Participation

Matua Conference Room at Grand Pacific Hotel

Bula Vinaka ladies and gentlemen

Welcome to the Forum on enhancing voter participation in Fiji. 

Today, I am keen to join you as we talk about this absolutely critical subject. A subject that delves on the creation of access, the creation of an environment that is enabling, creation of the opportunity as well as the creation of the desire to vote. 

Standing here in 2022, I would not want to start by defending the right to vote but instead, promote the right to vote that has been earned through years of struggle and hardship by many all around the world. Rather, in today’s age, one may even say it is being handed on a silver platter. Have we started to take it for granted? 

I find the words of Susan Anthony, a women’s rights activist in the early 20th century, as the most fitting to derive purpose to our discussions today. She said and I quote 

“Someone struggled for your right to vote. Use it.” 

unquote

Fiji, as we all know, has transitioned from a compulsory voting jurisdiction to one where voting is voluntary. This changes the dynamics significantly. Previously, if a person did not vote, they were subject to a fine and other penalties. This created a certain level of compellation for a person to go out and vote. Despite there being lesser number of polling stations, and numerous complications as reported about earlier elections, there remained a high percentage in terms of turnout.

The 2013 Constitution introduced Fiji to a new electoral system. Under this system, the voting age was reduced to 18 years. The ethnic based constituencies of the past were removed and the entire country was consolidated into a single national constituency. Election would now take place on a designated election day with pre-polling in remote areas instead of 7 days of voting as in the past. The 2014 Electoral Act made it a requirement that a voter can only vote where they are listed in the Voter List and not anywhere as was the case before. Voting was no longer compulsory. There are no fines for not voting.

The election in 2014 is termed a ‘transitional’ election and as is the trend in a transitional election, the turnout was very high, over 84%. Thereafter, the next election that followed was the 2018 General Election that saw a turnout of 72.9%. There is an election coming up in 2022 and it is prudent that we all, as a collective, review and organize ourselves so that we can drive the voluntary turnout to higher than 2018. This is the ideal desire as essential stakeholders gather today.

I have taken the liberty to read through the 2018 General Election Voter Turnout and Survey Reports. A quick look at the voter turnout data and one can already see the trends in Fiji comparable to other countries with voluntary voting. It is very encouraging to note that more women voted in the last election compared to men. I am particularly worried about the lower turnout in the 18-30 year old population range. 

Furthermore, I found the responses to the post election survey on the question “how much interest do you have in politics?” to be even more fascinating. In 2020, when the survey was done, 21.62% percent of the respondents had no interest in politics. When the same question was asked in 2022 during the pre-election survey, the number had changed to 26%. These numbers may seem quite subtle, but they give this forum today a crucial lead in terms of the work that lies ahead for all of us.

Ladies and gentlemen, in this room here today, we all must put aside our political proclivities and work towards achieving a common goal. The work we do here today may not be recorded with the glamourous pen in our history books but it will certainly join millions of battles fought in the background that shaped the future of our country.

I am advised that the forum is being attended by political parties, members of the civil society, youths, the team from the Fijian Elections Office, academia as well as interested individuals who applied through an expression of interest. This is a very good mix for us to start the discussion. I would like to commend the Supervisor of Elections for coming up with the idea. 

The Electoral Commission is responsible for the conduct of free and fair elections in accordance with the laws and we will work hard to ensure that the 2022 General Election becomes the platform where all Fijians can vote with confidence, security and freedom.

I end with the powerful words of former US President, Barrack Obama. He said and I quote:

“There’s no such thing as a vote that doesn’t matter. It all matters.”

Thank You. 

Vinaka Vakalevu

Dhanyavad. 

Meeting with Political Parties

Meeting with Political Parties

18 March 2022 at 2pm

FEO Conference Room

 

Bula Vinaka ladies and gentlemen,

I thank you so much for attending this meeting.

I am here on behalf of the Electoral Commission and on the invitation of the Supervisor of Elections, I have agreed to join this meeting and co-chair with the Supervisor of Elections.

First and foremost, may I take this opportunity to once again, reintroduce myself, my name is Mukesh Nand and I am a legal practitioner. I have been practicing in Suva for over 18 years. And I am very very privileged and honored to be undertaking this role, as we go towards the 2022 election.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you are all aware, since I have just started recently, I am still in the process of understanding and getting familiar with the processes in elections.

But so far from what I have seen, I am confident that the process is directly similar to the 2018 process and based on the findings of the Observers in the 2018 General Election, I am confident that the planning and the preparations for this election are on par to deliver another fair and credible election, proudly representing the will of the Fijian people in accordance with the law. The Electoral Commission fully supports the activities of the Fijian Elections Office in this regard.

Ladies and gentlemen, I will be very much interested to see the demonstration by the Fijian Elections Office to the political party today, as I am of the view that it is absolutely necessary for the Fijian Elections Office to demonstrate various aspects of its election processes so that political parties and ordinary members of the public are able to visualize it, understand it and at the same time build ownership around it.

I want to also add another point to the discussion, ladies and gentlemen, and that is to do with misinformation. The Electoral Commission has lately noticed that there is a series of publications which contain several misinformation and we would like to just remind political parties to ensure that when they publish about elections, they publish information that is accurate and reliable. So that it does not end up being a misinformation and misleads voters.

The General Election is a process in which we are all stakeholders and it is necessary that we respect each other and we respect the process so as to allow it to realize people’s constitutional right in the running of the country.

Ladies and Gentlemen, that is my advice to you all and I would like to hand over to the Supervisor of Elections to continue the meeting. I will be present in the meeting. Should you need any clarification from the Electoral Commission in any regard.

Thank you

Vinaka Vakalevu

Dhanyavad

Know Your Election[KYE] Awareness Campaign for 2022 General Election

Statement by Electoral Commissioner

Mr Mukesh Nand

Know Your Election[KYE] Awareness Campaign for 2022 General Election

8 March 2022

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very warm welcome to you all here today.

It is indeed a great honor and pleasure for me to visit you here in the beautiful island of Ovalau. This also happens to be my first official visit to a voter registration and awareness venue since the 2022 General Election Nationwide Voter Registration and Education drive began.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the current program is essential for the next general election. We want every eligible person to be able to register if they haven’t yet and we also want every Fijian voter to have the most latest VoterCard.

Registration is the first step towards the guarantee that you can vote in the next general election. In Fiji, you can only vote in the polling station in which you name is in the voter list. This means that when you register or upgrade your card today, check the name of the Polling Venue very carefully on your VoterCard.

I am in full agreement with the 2018 Electoral Commission when they recommended to upgrade the VoterCard to include the Polling venue details on it. This is simply because in our electoral system, you must know your polling venue in-order to vote. This is an important piece of information that one would expect on their VoterCard – which is now directly printed on the card .

For any election, Voters are our most important stakeholders as they hold the key on Election Day when they exercise their right to vote. Voters need to be educated about the electoral process to help them become an informed voter.

I hope that the awareness session that the Supervisor of Elections will conduct next will provide you with essential information that will help you to better understand the electoral system. We believe that the more information you have on the electoral process, the greater your sense of ownership will be. Ultimately, the electoral process is for the ordinary voter.

Thank you for having me here and I hand over to the Supervisor of Elections.

Vinaka

Nationwide Voter Registration Drive and the Know Your Election Campaign Launch

Statement by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission

Nationwide Voter Registration Drive and the Know Your Election Campaign Launch

The Grand Pacific Hotel

Suva

25 February 2022

 

Your Excellency, The President of the Republic of Fiji,
Hon Speaker of Parliament,
Fellow Electoral Commission members,
Members of the Diplomatic Corp,
Acting Prime Minister,
Distinguished Invited Guest,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

Ni sa Bula Vinaka and a very good morning to you all.

This morning, it is my honor and privilege to take this stage in my first act as Chairperson of the Electoral Commission. I am indeed humbled to receive such appointment and I wish to thank the Constitutional Offices Commission and His Excellency for your trust and faith in me to undertake this role.

Your Excellency, I also take this opportunity to welcome you to this event. On behalf of the Electoral Commission, the Supervisor of Elections and the Fijian Elections Office, I convey our heartiest thanks to you for accepting the invite to launch this important event of great national interest.

The Electoral Commission, under section 75 of the Constitution, is responsible for the conduct of free and fair elections in accordance with written law governing elections in Fiji. The Electoral Commission will follow the law as it is – and that is our prescribed role in the Constitution. Under section 75(2)(b) of the Constitution, the Electoral Commission is also responsible for voter education.

Today’s event will mark the commencement of the nationwide voter awareness campaign called ‘Know Your Election’ and the Nationwide Voter Registration Drive for the 2022 General Election. These essential election preparation programs will run concurrently from today until the 2nd of April 2022.

As we are all aware, the electoral system in Fiji does not provide for a fixed date for the conduct of the General Election. Instead, the election can be called any time from the 9th of July 2022 till the 9th of January 2023. While we do not know the date of election yet, we want to be prepared and we want the voters to be able to access basic information on the General Election.

Voter education is a major contribution to electoral integrity and voter confidence. The ‘Know Your Election’ campaign will disseminate consistent, balanced, non-partisan and objective information on what voters need to know in order to exercise their right to vote.

The Fijian Elections Office has produced the Election Information Booklet which provides information on voters’ rights and obligations in the electoral process and explains the importance of the process of voting. It also has essential information for voters in terms of campaign and source of credible information on election.

Voters need to be educated about the electoral process to help them become an informed voter and every Fijian Voter should have at least perused through one Election Information Booklet before they reach the polling station.Personally, I am looking forward to overseeing the conduct of this national exercise. I have been briefed about the extensive plans by the Fijian Elections Office and I wish all of the staff the very best in their tasks. I have just joined the Electoral Commission and I certainly look forward to my overall roles and responsibilities. I look forward to working with my fellow Commission members, the Supervisor of Elections, the Fijian Elections Office and other stakeholders in delivering the 2022 General Election. Together, we will work hard to ensure that every Fijian is able to cast his/her vote with confidence, security and freedom.

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and Dhanyabadh.

 

-Ends-

 

Elections Disability Access Working Group (EDAWG) Term of Reference Signing Between Fijian Elections Office, Pacific Disability Forum and National Council for Persons with Disabilities

by Electoral Commission

Statement by the Chair of the Electoral Commission
Mr Suresh Chandra

Elections Disability Access Working Group (EDAWG)
Term of Reference Signing Between Fijian Elections Office, Pacific Disability Forum
and National Council for Persons with Disabilities

Date: 20 November 2021
Venue: Grand Pacific Hotel
Time: 10am – 12pm

 

Bula Vinaka Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honor and privilege this morning to officiate the signing of this Election Disability Access Working Group Terms of Reference between the Fijian Elections Office and various representatives of organizations of persons with disabilities (OPDs). Today is yet another instrumental moment in our history as we build inclusive, accessible and free election processes in our Fiji.

On behalf of the Electoral Commission, I would like to congratulate all partners involved for finalizing this working document so that all who are concerned can participate and collaborate to deliver effective electoral processes that are not only accessible and inclusive but create greater ownership within all communities in Fiji.

We consider persons with disabilities and OPDs as vital partners in elections and political process-focused programs. OPDs provide a pre-existing platform for mobilizing persons with disabilities and representing the interests of persons with disabilities and as such they should be included at every stage of the electoral process. Partnering with them makes it easier to engage on an equal platform and initiate activities that are contextually relevant without re-inventing the wheel.

It is my view that the previous TOR provided a mutually beneficial platform for both the FEO and the OPD’s in the last election. The outcomes of the last TOR were obvious in the conduct of the election and the involvement of the OPD’s in the various stages.

In terms of our role under section 75 of the Constitution, we see the Electoral Commission as the overall in charge of the elections but we are of the view that the Electoral Commission through the Fijian Elections Office must work together with key organizations in this country so that we can facilitate the realization of rights of certain minority groups that would otherwise be ignored. One must look at the reports from 2006 to see what was the level of attention given to the access for disabled persons’ and then compare the same with 2018. It is our view that people with disabilities should be able to work in elections, participate in the polling process, contest the elections, participate in observation of the elections as well as do anything necessary just like any other person who is not in this category and to do this we must make sure that we constructively prepare for the election in a manner that is conducive to such group of people.

Going forward to the next election it will be very interesting to see what this Terms of Reference will realize for us. On behalf of the Electoral Commission and the people of Fiji, I would like to wish all the OPDs and the Fijian Elections Office the very best of success in realizing this Terms of Reference. We must not leave anyone behind.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I was appointed the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission in February 2017. During my first term as Chairperson, I oversaw the successful conduct of the 2018 General Election. The Multinational Observer Group in its report held that the 2018 General Election was fair and credible and it broadly represented the will of the Fijian people. It was one of the most well organized elections in the history of our country.

 I was subsequently re-appointed as chairperson for another 3 year term. I am privileged to work next to 6 very diligent, respectable and established individuals who are the Electoral Commissioners. I also acknowledge Mohammed Saneem, the Supervisor of Elections and his team at the Fijian Elections Office for effectively handling all election tasks and responsibilities. I congratulate Saneem for completing his Masters in Electoral Policy and Administration- truly an asset to Fiji.

The preparations for the next election have already begun and I have been closely keeping track of the progress. Things are definitely shaping up.

It is with a heavy heart that I wish to advise that I have informed His Excellency, the President and the Constitutional Offices Commission that I am stepping down from my appointment as Chair of the Electoral Commission and today is my final day in Office.

I would like to thank H.E the President, the COC and the people of Fiji for entrusting me with this tremendous responsibility and I would like to wish the Electoral Commission, the Fijian Elections Office and the people of Fiji all the success in the upcoming General Election.

I started my career as a civil servant and I held my appointment as Chair of the Electoral Commission with dignity, pride and honor. I am joined by my wife here this morning as I bid farewell to you all.

Thank you, Vinaka Vakalevu and may God bless Fiji.