Foreign election experts arrive in Fiji

aiyaz saiyad khaiyum
Three election experts are in Fiji to begin assessing what the country’s Elections Office will need to successfully conduct the 2014 General Election and subsequent polls.

They have commenced what is officially being called a Gap Analysis/Needs Assessment that will concentrate on capacity building in the Elections Office.

The team includes a specialist from the Commonwealth, (Carl Dundas), one from the Elections Office of New Zealand, (Melissa Thorpe), and another from the European Commission, (Etienne Claeye).

The three are charged with identified the capacity needs of Fiji’s Elections Office, which will assist countries and development agencies best identify how they can contribute to the election process.

The Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum, welcomed the three experts to Fiji.

“ The Bainimarama Government is treating the Elections Office as totally apolitical in our quest to ensure that the 2014 parliamentary elections are fair, transparent and have complete credibility. We also expect that this assessment and all development partners will also be apolitical, which is in the best interests of the country and sustained parliamentary democracy”, he said.

The AG said the Government was intent on building capacity in the Elections Office not only for next year’s poll but subsequent elections.

“From now on, we will be holding elections every four years and they can actually be called every three and a half years. This means creating an Elections Office that has a permanent staff trained to a high level and capable of delivering elections held to the highest international standards”, he said.

The Attorney General said that previous elections had been hampered by a lack of expertise on the part of those charged with conducting them.

“We need to establish proper career paths within the Elections Office to ensure that we not only attract the best people but keep them”, he added.

Last week, the Attorney General chaired the inaugural meeting of a Coordinating Committee made up of representatives of countries with which Fiji has diplomatic relations to begin the process of discussing Fiji’s election needs.

“ For the first time, the Government is considering the idea of having the election conducted in one day instead of over a week. This will obviously involve the Elections Office in a far more demanding logistics exercise than it has been traditionally prepared for,” the AG added.

-fiji govt