September 17, 2012

Fiji Labour Party: Now you can vote even if you don’t live here…

[posted 17 Sept 2012,1630]
Fiji Labour Party questions the regime’s motive behind the surreptitious removal of the minimum residential qualification for registration as a voter.

The Electoral (Registration of Voters) Decree No. 54 simply states that a person who has reached the age of 18 years and is a citizen of Fiji has the right to be registered as a voter.

This is a marked departure from provisions in the 1997 Constitution and previous Electoral Acts. Section 55 (1) (c) of the Constitution states clearly that a person applying for registration as a voter must “have been resident in Fiji for 2 years immediately before their application for registration (unless their absence from Fiji … is for a reason prescribed by Parliament…”

The exception is in the case of persons who are abroad in the service of the State, for study, on medical grounds or on a temporary holiday. The reasons are specified in the 1998 Electoral Act .

“Why has the 2-year residential qualification been dropped? asked FLP Leader Mahendra Chaudhry.

“The right to vote must originate from a person’s residency and citizenship of a country,” Mr Chaudhry said.

He said the removal of residency qualifications will have serious repercussions for our elections. It can potentially undermine the credibility and integrity of our electoral rolls.

No reasons have been advanced by the regime and we are not aware of any other country in our region that does not have a minimal residential qualification to register as a voter.

We see this as an act of manipulation designed to corrupt the electoral process. The FLP has from the very beginning maintained that it should be kept independent of the regime.

The Constitution Commission has also asserted that the electoral and constitutional process be kept independent of the regime to give it due credibility, independence and integrity.

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