Dr Baba: We are not bound by deadline
By TALEBULA KATE
The Social Democratic Liberal (SDL) party said yesterday it is ready to register for next year’s general elections – but it will not do so immediately. Spokesperson Dr Tupeni Baba said today is the deadline for existing political parties but as a new party they are not bound by it.
He said the deadline for re-registering today is for parties like the National Federation Party and the Fiji Labour Party. Yesterday the National Federation Party (NFP) – the country’s oldest political party – became the first to register.
The Fiji Labour Party is expected to register by the deadline of midnight tonight, despite saying it will launch a court challenge against the new party registration rules.
Parties that register by today under the new political party registration decree will be invited to take part in the Constituent Assembly which will debate and decide the new constitution.
Meanwhile, the National Federation Party has become the first political party to re-register for the 2014 General Elections.
Party president and Suva lawyer Raman Pratap Singh and party officials yesterday filed their party’s application to re-register as an existing political party under the new political party registration decree.
Mr Singh said even though they had filed their application to re-register, they would have to stop operating as a party according to Section 4 (3) of the decree.
Section 4(3) of the decree states that all existing parties which apply for registration under the decree shall be deemed to be a proposed political party and must not thereafter operate or function as a political party from the expiry of the 28 days after the commencement of the decree until registration is complete.
“Basically we have become a proposed political party and we are not allowed to operate and function as a political party until registration is complete,” Mr Singh said.
“We anticipate it will take 28 days so NFP will not be making any statements because of the decree,” he said.
He said NFP was aware that the decree now prohibits the party from operating until they are registered and have asked its members and supporters to bear with them and be patient as they wait for the decision.
The party has recorded around 8000 members in all divisions far in excess of the 5000 required.
Mr Singh said the party acknowledged the efforts of its volunteers who worked tirelessly during the membership drive to meet the requirements of the decree and was confident they would be registered.
The office of the registrar for political parties will remain open until midnight today to allow the maximum time for existing political parties to register for the 2014 elections.
The registrar of elections, Mere Vuniwaqa, said her staff would be on hand to receive applications after normal business hours.
“We want to allow the maximum amount of time tomorrow (today) for applications to be lodged by existing political parties.”
Mrs Vuniwaqa would like to remind existing political parties that all applications must be submitted in hard copy at Level 1, Suvavou House, Victoria Parade, Suva.