Fiji elections declared 'credible' by monitoring group

2015-04-14 10:50

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Suva - An international monitoring group declared on Tuesday that last year's election in Fiji was "credible", but called for restrictions on the media and civil society groups to be eased.

The September 2014 vote was the first election in the coup-plagued Pacific nation since military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama seized power in 2006.

A multinational observer group (MOG) said it was satisfied the poll, which resulted in a landslide victory for Bainimarama's FijiFirst party, was carried out correctly.

"While the MOG notes areas for improvement of Fiji's electoral process, it deems this a credible election," said the group, which has 92 members from 13 countries around the world as well as the European Union, in its final report.

"The MOG believes the election broadly represented the will of the Fijian voters. The MOG congratulates the people of Fiji on taking this important step in their return to democracy."

More than 500 000 people were registered to vote in the election which for the first time extended full voting rights to Indian Fijians, who make up 40% of the 900 000 population.

The vote was considered pivotal to ending the country's "coup culture", which saw four governments toppled between 1987 and 2006, largely due to tensions between indigenous Fijians and ethnic Indians.

After the election, the US, Britain and Australia lifted sanctions and Fiji was allowed to rejoin the Commonwealth. However, opposition politicians claimed ballot-rigging had marred the result.

The group criticised the threat of draconian punishments for media deemed to have broken Fiji's restrictive media laws or breached a three-day blackout on election reporting in the lead-up to polling day.

Under the laws, journalists risked a five-year term for publishing political analysis, interviews of candidates or anything that had the potential to influence voters during the blackout period.

"The restrictive and vague media framework, including potentially harsh penalties, limited the media's ability to rigorously examine the claims of candidates and parties," it said.

Another concern raised by the group was a ban on non-government organisations participating in the election process by holding debates, publishing voter information or acting as polling booth observers.

It said the ban, which threatened NGO members with 10-year jail terms, was "unduly restrictive".

"Heavy restrictions were placed on civil society participation in the lead-up to the election," it said, calling for an overhaul of the laws before the next election, scheduled for 2018.

Read more on:    fiji

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


WATCH: Man films himself going down water slide upside down as things go very wrong…

What is at first an exciting tummy-turning adventure stunt, quickly turns into a scarily bad idea caught on camera. Take a look:


You won't want to miss...

WATCH: Conor McGregor: Notorious the trailer
Best date night restaurants in South Africa
WATCH: Ryan Reynolds offers fans a free tattoo in new Deadpool 2 teaser
Should you date your co-worker?
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.