[No 24 /2014]
[April 20 2014]
The UFDF today challenged the AG to release details of the supposed recommendations he claimed was made by the election experts that his former Permanent Secretary for Justice Mohammed Saneem be appointed Supervisor of Elections.
The UFDF said in a statement today that since the surprise announcement of Mohammed Saneem as Supervisor of Elections information has come to their notice that suggests neither Australia nor New Zealand or the private experts they fund ‘recommended’ Mohammed Saneem for the job as was claimed by the AG when he announced the appointment.
The UFDF said that given these new developments, the AG should immediately release the details of the recommendations he claimed to have been made when he said quote ‘He [presumably Laurie McGrath] and the other consultants that carried out the assessment for us, in the event that Lurie was not able to take up the position, recommended that the permanent secretary responsible for elections Mr Mohammed Saneem take up the position of Supervisor of Elections’ unquote.
The UFDF said it has been very reliably informed that none of the experts made any such recommendation. What they were asked to do was make ‘comment’ on Mr Saneem as an individual and naturally being the person they have all been engaged with for some time now as part of their role as consultants for the elections office, their comments on the individual would have been favorable. However there was no ‘recommendation’ made as the AG has claimed.
The UFDF said if the AG insists it was a recommendation, then for such a critical appointment the experts would have no doubt put pen to paper to justify why they would pick the least qualified, with no previous experience as voter let alone Supervisor of elections. Especially when he like the others failed to meet the criteria set.
After all, according to the AG himself of the 3 Fijians and 10 foreigner applicants, 1 withdrew and the rest failed to meet the criteria set? Question: Was Saneem one of the applicants? He obviously did not meet the criteria, so why would the technical experts recommend someone with ‘zero’ experience?
In a Fiji Sun report of Sept 2013 titled AG – We’re looking for the best Supervisor of Elections’ the AG is reported as saying quote ‘ the Bainimarama government was particularly encouraging applications from elections experts overseas ‘ unquote
The UFDF says although it is a rare thing, they actually agree with the sentiments expressed by the AG in that same Fiji Sun report when he said quote ‘it is very important that this position be filled by an individual with necessary skills and expertise, who can build capacity in the elections office and who can ensure that Fiji’s national elections are conducted in a fair, transparent and credible manner’ unquote.
The UFDF said Mr Khaiyum went on to say quote ‘Preferably, applicants must have at least 15 years experience in conducting elections and must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills and capacity to conduct national elections in one day using best international practices’ the UFDF says it agrees with the points mentioned by the AG!
But as always what the Bainimarama government says and what they actually do are two very different things as we demonstrate below:-
1: WHAT THEY SAID: We’re looking for the best Supervisor of Elections? AG Sept 2013
WHAT THEY DID: 3 Fijians and 10 foreigner applicants, 1 withdrew and the rest failed to meet the criteria set so they appointed the ‘least qualified’
2: WHAT THEY SAID: The Bainimarama government was particularly encouraging applications from
Elections experts overseas: AG Sept 2013
WHAT THEY DID: Appoint a local
3: WHAT THEY SAID: It is very important that this position be filled by an individual with necessary skills and expertise, who can build capacity in the elections office and who can ensure that Fiji’s national elections are conducted in a fair, transparent and credible manner’ AG Sept 2013.
WHAT THEY DID: Appoint the least qualified person, who was not only too young to vote in the 2006 elections so has never participated in an election, let alone manage one. This does not demonstrate at all the process for appointing the Supervisor as being fair, transparent or credible.
3: WHAT THEY SAID: Preferably, applicants must have at least 15 years experience in conducting elections and must be able to demonstrate that they have the skills and capacity to conduct national elections in one day using best international practices’ AG Sept 2013
WHAT THEY DID:
Appointing a supervisor who has ‘zero’ years experience in conducting elections when the requirement is a minimum of 15 years is not ‘Best International Practice’
The UFDF said that given the emergence of this new information and given that not one of the stated selection processes outlined by the AG has been followed, the voters of Fiji have a right to know:-
- Exactly what justification was made in the recommendations of the experts in support of Mr Saneem’s suitability and qualification for the job, when it is clear he is the most ‘unqualified?
- What justification or logic was used by the appointing authority or the experts for confirming the more qualified of the two as a Deputy and the least qualified of the 2 as Supervisor?
- Given that the least qualified person was appointed, what were the qualifications of all those applicants who did not meet the criteria and therefore not considered?