Jun 23, 2018 Last Updated 11:16 PM, Jun 21, 2018

By Anish Chand

Former Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka has said he will continue from where he left off in 1997 to ensure a constitution like the one his government enacted in 1997.

In a speech at University of Fiji's School of Law on Tuesday this week, the SODELPA Leader said he remained confident and hopeful that “our country will return to genuine democracy and constitutional legality and legitimacy."

He also outlined what his vision was for Fiji.

“In the event SODELPA, the party that I have been entrusted to lead, wins the majority number of seats in parliament in the 2018 general elections, I shall resume the work that Hon Jai Ram Reddy and I started in the 1997 constitution. And this is to develop in full consultation with the people of Fiji, and with an all-parties consensus decision in parliament for a review of the 2013 Fiji constitution,” he said.

"The purpose of such a review will be ensure that the constitution genuinely reflects the wishes and the aspirations of “We the people of Fiji.”

He also elaborated why he was opposed to the usage of “Fijian” as the common name.

“For an indigenous iTaukei, to be called a “Fijian” means much more than being a citizen of Fiji. It means being registered in the iVola ni Kawa Bula (VKB) (Fijian registry) as a member of a customary landowning mataqali (clan). It is for this reason, that it has been very hard for many iTaukei to understand the Bainimarama regime’s rationale for unilaterally appropriating the name “Fijian” for use as the common name of all Fiji citizens,” he said.

May or October Poll?

THE burning question from April 2018 to October 2018 will be: when will Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama dissolve parliament to pave the way for the 2018 general election?

According to Fiji’s 2013 constitution, parliament can be dissolved anytime between 3 years 6 months of the last parliament sitting to the day the first time parliament sat 4 years ago.

After the 2014 elections, parliament sat for the first time on 6 October 2014, which gives a window of 6 April 2018 to 6 October 2018, between which time the PM can dissolve parliament.

If it is dissolved on 6 April and writ of elections issued on the same day, general election will be held 44 days later. Nominations are to be filed within 14 days after the writ and elections to be held after 30 days.

Likewise, if parliament is dissolved on 6 October, add 44 days after that for Fijians to go the polls.
No doubt the 2018 elections will be the mother of all elections.

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By Anish Chand
 
In this election year, the Fijian Supreme Court is set to hand down a judgement that will clearly define the role of the Supervisor of the Elections when it comes to following directives of the Electoral Commission.
 
Tomorrow (27th February), Chief Justice of Fiji, Anthony Gates will sit as a single judge to preside over an appeal by the Supervisor of Elections on a high court judgement on 29th November 2016 that ruled the Fijian Supervisor of Elections must comply with all the decisions and directions given to him concerning the performance of his functions by the Fijian Electoral Commission.
 
The FEO had filed an appeal in the Supreme Court, Fiji's highest court.
 
The court case began in August 2014, just before the September general elections when the Electroral Commission went to the High Court after the Commission had sought clarification from the High Court on the interpretation of the law related to objections.
 
The High Court was asked to clarify the view of the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem on whether he was right or wrong in not following a directive of the commission and proceeded to draw the National Candidates List of the 2014 General Elections.
 
The commission had received objections against Parveen Kumar and had ruled that the FijiFirst candidate be disqualified from the National Candidates List.
 
They had also ruled that the Fiji Labour Party candidate Steven Singh be reinstated in the final list of candidates but the FEO had gone ahead without the instructions of the commission.
 
High Court judge Justice Kamal Kumar was asked to give:
 
* a declaration that the Supervisor of Elections erred in law and in fact in concluding that the Electoral Commission was bound to deliver its decision on the objections and applications for review in terms of Sections 30 and 31 of the Electoral Decree 2014 by 4pm Friday August 2, 2014 and not any later time on that day; and
 
* a declaration that the Supervisor of Elections was bound to flow the directive of the Electoral Commission given by the Electoral Commission's letter dated August 22, 2014 in compliance with Section 76 (3) of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji.
 
Justice Kumar delivered a judgement in the favour of the FEO and he refused to grant the declarations.
 
Not happy with the decision, the Electoral Commission appealed to the Fiji Court of Appeal where a full bench of the court made up of the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice William Calanchini, Justice Almeida Guneratne and Justice David Alfred heard the arguments and allowed the appeal by the commission.
 
The three justices' said in the interest of administrative efficacy and the smooth functioning of the electoral process the commission discharged its functions when it sent its letter dated August 22, 2014 to the Supervisor.
 
"Once the commission did that, the Supervisor was mandatorily required to carry out the decision contained in that communication in terms of Section 76 (3) read with Section 8 (a) of the Electoral Decree and it was not open to him to question the legality and/or constitutionality of it, particularly in view of the provisions of Section 30 (7) of the said decree which decrees that the commission's decision is final, not permitting any appeal or review against the same."
 
In their conclusion, the Fiji Court of Appeal declared that the time limits of three days in section 30 (5) and Section 31 (4) of the Electoral Decree end at midnight on the third day.
 
The judgement said under Section 76 (3) of the Constitution read with section 8 (a) of the Electoral Decree requires the Supervisor of Elections to comply with all the decisions and directions given to him concerning the performance of his functions by the Fijian Electoral Commission.
 
Now the final decision on this argument rests with Justice Anthony Gates and the ruling of the Supreme Court of Fiji.

HOW can one predict the result for next month’s general elections in Samoa, now? Smartphones, that’s how. Similar to other island states, Samoa has embraced mobile phones with almost alarming ease.

Blank pageYet clicking on the Tautua Samoa Party website reveals a white page, blank except for admin folders, but no visible content. In a country where nearly everyone has a mobile, and significant percentages check Facebook, the opposition’s social networking skills also seem dismal, with just ten people liking the latest post at time of writing – a photo from their sixth birthday, in December.

A few likes, but no comments. Old school The opposition Tautua party has instead gone the opposite direction, apparently dumping the website in favour of an oldschool newspaper. With tens of thousands of social network users in Samoa, that approach and the lack of response does not bode well for notions of political regime change any time soon. In fact, many are predicting the elections are over before they’ve even begun. “Tui will get it again”, is the common wisdom heard around town, and islands. Will he?

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Political horse-trading

VOTERS in Kiribati went to the polls on January 7th 2015 and gave the country’s more prominent political parties more than a wake-up call. For the first time in their political history, the i-Kiribati are more likely to witness intensive “political horse-trading” to determine who succeeds Anote Tong as the next Kiribati President. When the dust settled, there were 16 political “newcomers”, making up the largest single political “bloc” if they decided to form a coalition.
 
 
The ruling Boutokaan te Koaua (BTK) Party came in with 13 elected members after losing five of its sitting ministers including a key member and veteran politician, Teatao Teannaki from Abaiang. Their coalition partner, the Maurin Kiribati (MK) Party also suffered a major defeat with the loss of its leader and founding member, Nabuti Mwemwenikarawa.
 
The Party won two seats. Reports on the ground suggest supporters are optimistic that the co-founder and former lawyer MP of South Tarawa, Banuera Berina, will provide new directions for the party. Berina won the Kuria constituency defeating former finance minister Tom Murdoch. The Opposition, Karikirakeantei-Kiribati (KTIK) Party was not spared by voters either, having its Parliamentary seats cut back to eleven. Many of the new faces in Parliament are well-educated young i-Kiribati men with professional work experience.
 
For others who may not have the tertiary qualifications or work experience, financial status apparently found favour with voters as in the case of at least two elected members from South Tarawa
 
 
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