Pre-election statement

On 11 November, the Hon Jane Prentice MP and Mr Mukesh Chandra Sahu delivered a pre-election statement on behalf of the three MOG co-chairs. The statement is as follows:

The MOG has been in country and undertaking an extensive program of work since late September. We, the co-chairs, are confident that the MOG’s work to date has been thorough, and we are honoured to lead the Mission through these important last stages of the election process.

The MOG has been impressed by the professionalism of Fijian Elections Office (FEO) staff and the efficiency and transparency of their preparations for election day. We assess their election preparations have proceeded smoothly in large part because the FEO has had more time to plan and prepare its electoral operations compared to the 2014 General Election.

To date, the MOG has observed all of the key electoral processes, and has encountered no evidence of any wrong-doing. Pre-polling went ahead with only minor glitches and preparations for election day seem on track.

The MOG is aware of reports of some voters not finding themselves on the voter list at the polling station they attended during pre-polling. MOG observers also encountered some instances of this in the field. At the same time, MOG teams observed election officials assisting these individuals how they could, and we acknowledge that the FEO has acted in line with electoral laws. We can assure you that our observers will continue to monitor this issue on Election Day and detail our observations following the election. This issue also highlights the need for voters to ensure they check the polling station where they are registered to vote on Election Day.

The next stages of the election process are extremely important - the polling and counting during Election Day as well as the counting and tabulation activities at the National Count Centre and the National Results Centre. The MOG will be closely observing these crucial processes. We will also be closely following post-electoral developments, including the allocation of seats and any electoral disputes that might arise.

We are confident that the MOG is fully prepared to perform its role on Election Day. We are diverse team, with observers from around the region, as well as further abroad, and a range of professional backgrounds, including technical experts, public servants and parliamentarians. This diversity will bring strength and credibility to our observations.

Our short-term observers have now arrived in country and tomorrow we will be briefing and training them. Observers will then be deployed on Tuesday across the country to observe both voting and counting, in all four divisions, and in urban and rural areas.

We, the co-chairs, will release an interim statement on 16 November outlining the MOG’s initial observations. This will be followed by a detailed final report containing recommendations for the Fijian Government as soon as possible following the election. Both of these will be made available to the Fijian public and the international community.

To inform these reports, we, the co-chairs, will collate and consider the reports of all observers to make an impartial and independent assessment of whether Fijians are able to exercise their right to vote freely and whether the outcome of the election reflects the will of Fijian voters. We will be looking at electoral processes based on both Fiji’s national legal framework as well as good international practices. And our assessment will be comprehensive, accurate and objective.

As Fiji prepares for election day on 14 November, we call on all political leaders to work together to ensure full respect for the electoral process, in which every voter, and in particular women, disabled people and youth, will be able to cast their ballot.

While the political debate has been animated and spirited, the campaign period has been calm and peaceful. We encourage all parties to continue to conduct themselves in this way during and after the announcement of the results. It is imperative that all candidates seek to address any complaints related to the electoral process through established legal and constitutional channels.

Finally, the MOG wants to encourage all eligible Fijian voters to exercise your right to vote on election day. Voting is an important civic duty, and contributes to the consolidation of sustainable democratic institutions.

We, the co-chairs, look forward to meeting Fijians in the days ahead. And we wish Fiji a peaceful election period.