Government and the Fiji Elections Office should release, if it is in possession of, the Final Report of the Multinational Observer Group (MOG) that observed the September 2014 General Elections.
This should be before the Elections Office embarks on a Strategic Plan that will form the basis of its preparations for the next general elections scheduled for 2018.
The National Federation Party believes a Report should have been handed to the Government by now. If so, then Government and the Elections Office as a matter of transparency and accountability should publicly release the full contents of the Report. And if the Report has not been handed over, then the MOG must inform all stakeholders why there has been a delay in the finalization and handing over of the Report.
18th April will see the completion of seven months since the release of the MOG’s preliminary statement. That statement, while finding that the elections “broadly represented the will of the Fijian voters” and that “conditions were in place for Fijians to exercise their right to vote freely”, also noted the “media’s limited ability to examine rigorously the clams of candidates and (political) parties”.
The MOG statement noted this was due to “restrictive media framework including potentially onerous penalties”.
The MOG co-leaders had undertaken to provide Government and the Elections Office a final report detailing the MOG’s observations and “offering recommendations for improving the integrity and effectiveness of future electoral and related processes”. This is indeed a significant statement. The Elections Office and the Electoral Commission should look at the MOG in totality and compare its findings with their joint report, which mostly looked at operational aspects of the elections.
The National Federation Party believes the MOG’s Final Report should be a prerequisite to any strategic planning for the next general elections, especially improving the integrity and effectiveness of future electoral processes.
The findings of the MOG Report are an independent evaluation of the electoral process and it must be released publicly for the sake of transparency and accountability.