Fiji’s military will respect electoral process – Kalouniwai

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The Fiji military commander has rejected a request by opposition party leaders to intervene in a dispute over the country’s election process.

Speaking to RNZ Pacific, Major General Jone Kalouniwai said the military (RFMF) as an institution will put its trust in the electoral process.

“I wish to reassure the people of Fiji that the RFMF will not respond to People’s Alliance (PAP) leader Sitiveni Rabuka’s insistence or any political party, that we intervene under our responsibilities from Section 131.2 of the 2013 Constitution” Kalouniwai said.

“The constitutional responsibility of the RFMF section 131.2 does not make any reference to intervening or getting involved with the electoral processes or management of voting or counting of votes with the assistance of the military,” he said.

Kalouniwai explained that using the military in any form during the electoral process is unconstitutional.

“The RFMF will leave it in the good hands of those responsible of the electoral process under the 2013 constitution.”

The Commander went on to say the constitution has other avenues that the opposition parties can resort to when seeking redress.

“In this instance, I urge any dispute with reference to the electoral process be referred to the Supervisor of Elections, the Electoral Commission and the Court of Disputed Returns. These are the various organisations that deal with all electoral matters.”

The statement comes after a group of opposition party leaders called for a halt to vote counting on Thursday, demanding an audit of the country’s electoral system.

It was triggered by an anomaly in provisional results that was displayed on a Fiji Election Office results app on Wednesday night.

The app was taken offline for several hours and then restarted in the early hours of Thursday showing an almost unassailable lead for the ruling Fiji First Party over all other parties.

Speaking for a group of political parties at a media conference in Suva on Thursday, PAP leader Sitiveni Rabuka said the anomaly raised questions about the integrity of the entire electoral system.

Meanwhile, five political parties have today launched a petition to gather support in their quest to prove the election results are not free and fair.

The People’s Alliance, National Federation Party, Fiji Labor Part, Unity Fiji, and We Unite parties are working a coalition of parties.

PA leader Sitiveni Rabuka says they will be launching the petition in a few days.

The five leaders are also now saying they agree that manual count has been happening but they do not want the use of the results software and also the app.

SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC/PACNEWS