Fiji’s Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 passed in Parliament

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Fiji’s Electoral (Amendment) Bill 2022 was passed in Parliament Thursday.

The majority of the Opposition Members who contributed to the debate on the Electoral Amendment Bill 2022 were against Clause 3 of the Bill which amends section 6 of the Act.

National Federation Party MP, Lenora Qereqeretabua said she will not bow down to the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem while calling him infantile, want-to-be, and smart alec.

She said the Supervisor of Election (SOE)’s only job is to ensure that people are registered to vote, so why does he want these powers under the Act.

The amendment will now allow the SoE to carry out his functions under the Act, including the power to direct a person, by notice in writing, to furnish any relevant information or document.

“Now he wants powers to demand any information from anyone at any time simply based on having reasons to believe that a person has information or documents relevant to or required by him to do his job.

Similar sentiment was shared by Social Democratic Liberal Party Leader, Viliame Gavoka.

“In this case do we have anything here that we can say to the SoE that my right to privacy are being abused here.”

Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum questioned the Opposition MPs why they have not raised such issues previously as the same provisions are there under the FICAC Act, FNPF Act, FCCC Act, and the Immigration Act.

“It’s been nine years since these provisions have been put in place. Did the Law Society ever come up and say this is affecting privilege? Did the Law Council of Australia come up and say it is affecting the civil rights of people? Did SODELPA come up and say it is affecting the rights of the people of this country? Did NFP come up and say that? It has been there for nine years. What is the difference between this provision and that provision?”

Sayed-Khaiyum also challenged National Federation Party MP Lenora Qereqeretabu to make comments about the matters before the court outside parliament.

While debating on the amendments to the Electoral Act, Qereqeretabua highlighted the case where seven women are seeking constitutional redress challenging amendments to the Registration of Voters Act and the Interpretation Act.

She questioned whether these women will get justice.

“Some women voters challenged this in court and while it is sub-judice, it would not surprise me in the slightest that even if the Writ were to be issued on Monday, these women would still have no closure.”

Qereqeretabua went on further to highlight that NFP made complaints against Government MP Joseph Nitya Nand on the main polling day in 2018 who was allegedly opening campaigning at two venues.

She said pictures were taken and sent to the Supervisor of Elections.

“When nothing was done we included this conduct as a gross breach of Electoral Laws in our Court of Disputed Returns petition. Then what happened – the Courts decided to choose our witness for our Court of Disputed Returns petition. Right there we realised what our fate would be. This man (SoE) is not worthy of anybody’s trust.”

Sayed-Khaiyum said just for political mileage the Opposition come to parliament make fallacious comments in their desperation.

“Who is she to say that? She is basically saying that the judiciary in this country is corrupt. And I challenge her to do not hide behind parliamentary privileges to please make that comment outside the parliament because we have to protect the judiciary.”

Sayed-Khaiyum said such comment by Qereqeretabua is not very leadership like.

SOURCE: FBC NEWS/PACNEWS