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Keep election campaigns clean: Chandra

 

Aug 13, 2018 11:31:48 PM

Keep election campaigns clean: Chandra Electoral Commission Chairperson, Suresh Chandra has called on stakeholders, political parties, representative of political parties and voters to keep election campaigns clean and clear from religious vilification and racial discrimination.

Mr. Chandra said under section 75 of the Constitution of Fiji, the Electoral Commission is required to conduct free and fair elections in accordance with written laws governing elections.

“There have been so many discussions around what is a free and fair election and everyone has presented their views.”

“To have free and fair elections, we need to keep the buildup to the election clean,"he said.

“The Electoral Commission has over the period of time noted through the media, social media as well as from direct feedback from our own visitations during our work that there are reports for representatives from Political Parties, particularly in pocket meetings, there are instances of religious vilification and campaigns creating racial tension.”

“This is not on. There is no room for such behavior in Fiji’s electoral environment.”

He said the Commission is disappointed that incidences are still being brought to light where representatives of political parties are still using race and religion.

‘Today, as the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission together with my Commissioners, I give this assurance to all Fijians that the Electoral Commission will not tolerate this.”

“We have, this morning had a meeting with FICAC, the investigation and prosecution agency in the electoral framework, and we have asked FICAC to immediately investigate and finalize all the complaints in relation to elections.”

“FICAC has assured us that they will deal with these types of complaints expediently and take cases to court where they find there
is sufficient evidence to support a charge.”

“FICAC has assured us that they will take precautions to protect the complainants. FICAC will maintain confidentiality of complainant’s details and has in place strategies in relation to protecting the victims.”

“FICAC has also assured us that they are open and readily available to receive complaints and will take all necessary action under the law to ensure complaints are investigated with priority and presence.”

Mr. Chandra urged members of the public who are present in these meetings and instances to use their smartphones to record such behaviour and furnish the same to the Electoral Commission or to FICAC directly.

“At the same time, political parties can consider having their own recording apparatus at their meetings to protect their own interest. It is necessary to share the responsibility.”

“Political Parties must strongly advocate against racial and religious vilification.”

“We ask that all political Parties prepare and adopt their own code of conduct for campaign. Parties must have their own disciplinary process to deal with breaches by their own representatives. Parties must keep an eye on their own campaigns.”

Mr. Chandra added that the Commission will keep a close eye on political campaigns and they want the 2018 General Election to be a platform for voters to express their will with confidence, security and freedom.

By Reginald Chandar

Rythm

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