One of the new Electoral Commission members confided to Fijileaks that he had no choice but to say YES to Khaiyum when he [Khaiyum] phoned him and offered him the position on the Commission; he feared retaliation if he had snubbed the offer
Coming soon: The Kermode Report and Rabuka-Stephens Affair, and why this "Bandit" Rabuka, who is hiding behind IMMUNITY, should be held to account; in 1987, the late Judge Ghananand Mishra said:
"I will not serve under those bandits"; he resigned from the High Court;
also how SODELPA MP and prominent chief obtained a piece of LAND from one of his subjects and is now on the Public Accounts Committee
Fijileaks: Our founding Editor-in-Chief VICTOR LAL is weighing your requests for him to resume analysis and commentary on topics of interests as he did for nearly thirty years in the Daily Post and Fiji Sun
Response to the Attorney General on the role of Minister for Elections
The Attorney General and Minister for Elections is himself again misinforming the people on this issue. There has NEVER BEEN anything like him in any previous government.
The Attorney General cannot run away from the fact that he is the Minister for Elections, and the General Secretary and Registered Officer (one who deals directly on behalf of his party with the Elections Office), for the Fiji First Party. This is what is really unprecedented. The AG’s feeble claim that previous Prime Minister’s were Election Ministers, and therefore his holding of the portfolio is not wrong, is baseless desperation.
No other Minister for Elections ever interfered with the Electoral process like the Attorney General. His authority was requested by the previous Electoral Commission to seek independent legal advice. The Commission in its 2014 Annual Report states the Minister for Elections (AG) did not respond to their repeated requests, as evident from the Commission’s Report provided below:
Only last week (9th February) in Parliament the Attorney General imputed improper motives against the former Chairman of the Electoral Commission during the debate on the Electoral Bill. He cast aspersions on the former Chairman’s professional judgment when the former Chairman was not there to defend himself.
The AG said in Parliament:
“...it is completely unprecedented for the Electoral Commission to not get a legal opinion, should they require legal opinion form the Solicitor-General.
The Solicitor-General is also an independent office now appointed by the Judicial Services Commission, which is an independent body to get legal opinion. Instead the former Chairman of the Electoral Commission went and brought a legal opinion from outside and from someone who he has done a lot of work with and continues to do so.”
This is yet another example of the AG riding roughshod over people as a publicly compromised Elections Minister, while he concurrently wears the hat of General Secretary and Registered Officer of Fiji First.
More importantly, never has there been a Minister for Elections legally empowered by Decrees in their capacity as party leaders. This Minister is required to deal with the Elections Office frequently in his capacity as Registered Officer and General Secretary under both the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Decree and the Electoral Decree.
Therefore this is a clear conflict of interest.
a) Dedicated portfolio title as “Minister of Elections.”
Only the Fiji First Government has decided that it will give a portfolio or a title as “Minister of Elections” to a Cabinet Minister. Additionally this Cabinet Minister is holding the operational position of General Secretary of Fiji First Party dealing with the day-to-day functions of his party.
Other Prime Ministers had the Elections Office and other constitutional offices (such as Parliament) under its administrative wing for purely administrative purposes like budget allocation where it is listed separately, but under the umbrella of the PM’s Office.
b) Public Commentaries and Opposing the independent Electoral Commission in seeking independent legal counsel in the midst of an election
The Attorney General and Minister for Elections even went to the extent of publicly opposing the independent right of the Electoral Commission to seek its own independent counsel.
The AG said “it is really a pity that the Electoral Commission didn’t see it fit to get an opinion from the Solicitor-General.”
That was the most inappropriate remark to be made in the midst of Fiji’s 2014 General Elections. He, as Minster for Elections, while wearing the hat of Attorney-General (and as General Secretary and Registered Officer of Fiji First) basically urged that the Electoral Commission should have sought the advice of his own official lawyer -- the Solicitor-General -- on a dispute that involved the political parties. And that initial case in the High Court, which ruled in favour of the Supervisor, benefitted his own political party – Fiji First -- in the final candidate list.
If the Attorney General and Minister for Elections was not trying to interfere in the work of the Electoral Commission through the media, then what exactly was he trying to prove at that critical time?
c) Prescriptive Amendments to the Electoral Amendment Bill.
The manner in which last week’s electoral amendments were rushed through Parliament, the timing of these amendments and the substance of them left much to be desired. The NFP spoke at length on them in Parliament.
An important aspect is that these amendments were presented to Parliament at a time when a new Electoral Commission had just been appointed.
Where was the former Electoral Commission in driving these amendments? Who and which body was heavily involved in drafting these amendments and what manner of data were the amendments based on?
It is the Electoral Commission alone that is constitutionally mandated for the registration of voters and the conduct of free and fair elections (Sec 75 (2)), but it appears that there was a vacuum in place when these amendments were conducted and sought.
For the sake of a free and fair election next year and the integrity of the process, the NFP calls on Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum to stand down from this portfolio. We also call again on the Prime Minister to take over the portfolio of Minister for Elections and ensure that his Government gives the Fiji Electoral Commission, the latitude and independence it deserves which is constitutionally enshrined.
Professor Biman Prasad