Thursday, 13 September 2018

Rabuka : 2018 Candidate Update

Rabuka Announces 48 Provisionally Selected Candidates For 2018 Elections  

13 September 2018  

By Sitiveni L Rabuka, Party Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and former Prime Minister.    

The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) Leader, former Prime Minister Sitiveni L Rabuka today updated the Party’s list of provisionally selected candidates for the 2018 General Elections.    

This brings to 48 the list of provisional candidates to be fielded for the 2018 General Elections. 

He confirmed that SODELPA will field a total of 51 candidates and that another three are being vetted to ensure they comply with statutory and party requirements.  Some are not yet ready to be announced given they sit on government statutory boards and committees or have close relatives in these positions.  

The full list of 48 provisionally selected candidates is below:

//ENDs    

Authorised by:   
Sitiveni L Rabuka  
Party Leader 




Social Democratic Liberal Party Provisionally Selected Candidates   
13 Sept 2018 
     
1  Jese Saukuru  - Ba Central/Yasawa  
2  Pauliasi Matawalu  - Ba East  
3  Meretui Ratunabuabua  - Ba West   
4  Nacanieli Waka  - Ba/Tavua/Vatukoula   
5  Ioane Tupou Nawaikula  - Ba/Tavua/Vatukoula   
6  Mitieli Bulanauca  - Bua  
7  Ratu Atonio Lalabalavu  - Cakaudrove East  
8  Niko Nawaikula  - Cakaudrove West  
9  Sitiveni L Rabuka  - Cakaudrove West/ National  
10  Simione Rasova  - Kadavu   
11  Dr. Mere Samisoni  - Lami Constituency  
12  Anare Jale  - Lau   
13  Albert Wise  - Lautoka   
14  Inia Qereqeretabua  - Lautoka   
15  Peceli Vosanibola  - Lomaiviti  
16  Nemani Bulitavu  - Macuata   
17  Ratu Tevita Niumataiwalu  - Macuata   
18  Rev. Jone Kata  - Nadi   
19  Inosi Kuridrani  - Navosa   
20  Simione Drole  - Navosa   
21  Viliame Gavoka  - Nadroga   
22  Aseri Radrodro  - Naitasiri   
23  Peceli Rinakama  - Naitasiri   
24  Ro Kiniviliame Kiliraki  - Naitasiri   
25  Ratu Suliano Matanitobua  - Namosi   
26  Berenado Daveta  - Nasinu   
27  Jope Koroisavou  - Nasinu   
28  Pio Tabaiwalu  - Nasinu   
29  Ropate Ligairi  - Nasinu   
30  Salote Radrodro  - Nasinu   
31  Adi Narayan  - National (Central) 
32  Arvind Deo Singh  - National (Western)  
33  Ezekiel Sharma  - National (Northern)  
34  George Shiu Raj  - National (Western)  
35  Kitione Vuataki  - National   
36  Lynda Tabuya  - - National   
37  Ro Filipe Tuisawau  - National   
38  Jiosefa Dulakiverata  - National   
39  Opetaia Ravai  - National   
40  Uraia Salababa  - Ra (Nakorotubu/Nalawa)  
41  Malakai Nalawa  - Ra (Rakiraki/Saivou)  
42  Ro Teimumu Kepa  - Rewa   
43  Mikaele Leawere  - Serua  
44  Semesa Karavaki  - Suva  
45  Tanya Waqanika  - Suva   
46  Adi Litia Qionibaravi  - Tailevu North   
47  Ratu Isoa Tikoca  - Tailevu South   
48  Ratu Jone  Seniloli  - Tailevu South  

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Rabuka : Welfare Schemes Should Empower

State Welfare Schemes Should Empower, Not Create Handout Mentality
5 September 2018
By Sitiveni L Rabuka, Party Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and former Prime Minister. Prepared for Fiji Times Saturday edition 8 Sept, 2018.


A SODELPA Government will practice sound economic management to free Fiji from the current unsustainable debt level, high unemployment, high cost of living, low wage economy, uneven distribution of wealth, oppressive laws and the disempowering dependency syndrome fostered by non-targeted government handouts over the last twelve years.

The latest statistics show that almost 50% of our population are facing hardship whilst 28% of the total population are below the poverty line. This is a very worrying sign for a small, vulnerable country like Fiji.

Despite the untargeted handouts given by the current government, more than 240,000 people or 28% of our population are living below the poverty line. SODELPA’s overall objective is to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line, and to do this as soon as possible.

Before responding to the question of state welfare schemes, one must appreciate the rationale behind such welfare schemes, so that we can put the issue in perspective, to fit the local context.

Welfare or Social Protection is a human right, as guaranteed in article 22 of the the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. However it is part of the bundle of economic, social and cultural rights, which governments are obliged to implement progressively, depending on its resources.

Social welfare schemes must be managed so that assistance is given to those that deserve it. A SODELPA Government will implement a targeted approach to identify needs and put in policies that encourage people to find employment, and reduce the handout mentality that is fostering inter-generational poverty.

By convention, welfare programs are government subsidies to the poor and marginalised.  Recipients must prove that their income falls below a target, which is some percentage of the country’s poverty level. These subsidies are intended to ensure that the poor segment in our society can meet their basic human needs such as income, food and shelter.  One must also appreciate that welfare programs are not entitlements, but have a specific purpose, for specific, targeted groups.

As a Christian, I believe that we have a moral responsibility to help those in need and those without family or other societal support: widows, foreigners and the poor, see the Gospel of St. Matthew Chapter 25, verses 34-36, 40. It is better to give them a hand-up, rather than a handout. We are commanded to exercise wisdom as God calls us to be good stewards and do our best to ensure that the time, money and talents we give to charity are being used properly, refer to 1 Timothy Chapter 5 verse 3-16.

Indiscriminate welfare traps the recipients by making them dependent. After only one generation, a welfare mentality and permanent dependence develops. Biblical welfare meets needs and looks to restore individuals to a position of productivity.

In terms of welfare schemes, the government provides cash assistance to the most vulnerable or the ‘poorest of the poor’ which include single mothers, those that have some disability, the aged and families of prisoners, among others.

Further, we must rethink social protection to promote the dignity and worth of individuals and communities. This requires an understanding of people in distress and poverty. The starting point is recognising that all social protection measures must be founded on family and social structures.

We also need to ensure that government social welfare schemes do not further breakdown or disempower family and societal structures by an imposed program that strip communities of the intergenerational knowledge  and wisdom that enabled it to be self-sustaining and supported our wellbeing for generations. Further, programs should not replace the responsibility of families and communities as the first protectors.

Social protection is a necessary part of moving people out of poverty as we don’t want lifetime or generational poverty where individuals and families graduate from one welfare scheme, to yet another, in the different stages of their lives.
The high poverty rate, increasing crime and social ills demonstrate that the current government programme of giving free handouts indiscriminately is exacerbating the problem. Rather than an enabling environment for employment opportunities, we now have more people dependant on handouts.

Further, the current assistance through welfare programs in education, health and housing is not working because it is not targeting those that really need assistance, particularly on the claim that it is merit based particularly in education.

Both systems need an overhaul and a more targeted approach must be put into place, to ensure that those that need help, receive appropriate assistance.

What SODELPA will do
We will undertake the following initiatives:

Creating targeted employment opportunities through the implementation of government’s major investment program.  

Review the Foreign Investment Act to reserve key areas for local investment and employment opportunities; encourage the effective participation of resource owner through Joint Venture and Partnership with foreign investors will be compulsory in all resource based industries.

Locals will be given incentives to develop their own business based on natural resources they own as individuals, member of a Mataqali and Yavusa to generate income for their respective communities.

Necessary adjustment will be made in the education, health and housing sector to target subsidies to those that genuinely need assistance.

On Education, the replacement of TELS with bonded scholarship will be implemented immediately.  The review of our education system through an Education Commission, to meet the needs of the labour market, will be given priority.

To support better health services for all citizens, health services will be overhauled and the referral system improved. In addition, the bulk purchase of medicine through a centralised purchasing and effective distribution system will be implemented.

On basic housing needs, the government will work with the private sector and subsidise the developmental cost to reduce the cost of housing lots for low income earners. We will work in consultation with landowners to issue leases to informal (vakavanua arrangement) for “win win situation” for both tenant and landowners.

Arrangement will be made with Housing Authority (HA) and Public Rental Board (PRB) for the transfer of ownership of flats after completion of tenure for an agreed period of time. Squatter settlements will be upgraded and titles issued in partnership with responsible NGOs and tenants.

The following specific measures will be put in place to address the increase in incidence of poverty:

  • The availability of minimum and affordable basic need to all categories of the poor;
  • Formalise and strengthen government and civil society partnership in alleviating poverty;
  • Creating income earning opportunities through micro-lending, and the enabling environment for the disadvantaged to make informed decisions;
  • Foster and enforce traditional support mechanisms for the disadvantaged and provide adequate welfare support to the destitute. The strengthening of the Fijian social structure and institutions will be given priority;
  • Timely compilation and analysis of poverty statistics so that the right policy mix and targeted assistance is sustainable in the long run;
  • Reduce poverty level by at least 10% annually;
  • Continuation of food voucher scheme, and review its management to ensure efficiency;
  • Continue with Social Welfare Scheme, Food Vouchers Scheme, Bus assistance for the elderly and school children with improved administration and service;
  • Allocate more resources to support the disabled and ensure their special needs, including transport access, are recognized not only by the central government, but by municipalities and in building design;
  • Provide funding to NGOs which provide services and care for needy children, orphans and the elderly;
  • Increase funding for housing assistance for the poorest of the poor (e.g. HART).

//ENDs

Authorised by:
Sitiveni L Rabuka
Party Leader

Sunday, 2 September 2018

SODELPA PROVISIONAL CANDIDATE - NACANIELI WAKA



AGRICULTURAL SPECIALIST CHAMPIONS DEVELOPING OUR FARMING COMMUNITIES AND ENHANCING OUR AGRICULTURAL SECTOR




Mr Nacanieli Waka is the Provisional Candidate for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) for Ba East region.

Nacanieli’s main focus at this year’s 2018 polls in revitalizing the  agriculture sector.

He served in the Ministry of Agriculture for many yeras and is well respected amongst his peers and by those he worked with. He retired in 2017 after 34 years of service, as Director, Land Resource Planning and Development Unit.

In the community, he has been:

● advisor to Nakelo Village Development Committee;

● advisor to the Raramavou Group Farmers Association in Nakelo;

● advisor to Nakelo Village Youth Group;

● former Director Land Resource Planning and Development Division: Ministry of Agriculture;

● former Principal Agriculture Officer: Agricultural Development;

● former Senior Economic Planning Officer.


Nacanieli has a Postgraduate  Diploma in Economics from the University of Queensland (UQ)  Australia; Bachelor of Agricultural Economics from The University Of New South Wales in Australia and a Diploma in Tropical Agriculture from the Fiji College of Agriculture (FCA).


He hails from Nakelo Village, Tailevu.


Nacanieli is a widower and a loving father to Taito, Ulaiasi and Siteri his three children.

SODELPA PROVISIONAL CANDIDATE - GEORGE SHIU RAJ


BUSINESSMAN: CHAMPIONS REVIVAL OF SUGAR CANE FARMING IN RAKIRAKI





Mr George Shiu Raj is one of three Provisional Candidates for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) for Ra Province.



Raj’s main focus at this year’s 2018 polls is the revival of Sugar Industry.



Mr Raj received his tertiary education in Accounting from the UK.  He later joined the Chartered Accountant Firm of

Sambhu H Prasad as an Accountant for three years.



He contested the 1999 General Elections as an independent candidate and became the elected representative of the Ra Open Constituency.  He was appointed Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Multi Ethnic Affairs in the Interim Administration in 2000.  In 2001, he became the SDL’s Minister of Multi Ethnic Affairs.



The businessman is willing to purchase the now closed Penang sugar mill, rebuild and operate it as a private entity.



And he is confident he will be able to revive sugar industry in the Western Division.



The businessman has challenged the FSC Board to sell the Penang Mill to him.



"We are willing to buy this mill. We will need to move on. At the end of the day we know when the private sector comes over, they will need a profit margin and they will need to move things. So this is our opportunity now if the board is deciding to sell this mill to the private sector," said Mr Shiu Raj.



Mr. Shiu Raj says though he has the confidence in the new leadership at FSC, he feels they have let the Rakiraki farming community down by closing the mill. He says he can prove FSC wrong in closing down  the mill.



“Maybe it is time for the government to realise that the government or FSC should operate three mills and give one to the private sector to operate. Then you will see the difference what I’m saying." said Mr Shiu Raj.



He is happily married to Pravin Raj and has 3 children, a son and two daughters.

SODELPA PROVISIONAL CANDIDATE - IOANE TUPOU NAWAIKULA


COMMONWEALTH YOUTH WORKER AWARDEE CHAMPIONS YOUTH AND CHILDREN’S AGENDA





Mr Ioane Tupou Nawaikula is a Provisional Candidate for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) in the Western urban towns of Ba, Tavua and Vatukoula.



Ioane’s main focus at this year’s 2018 polls is on championing youth and children’s agenda.



Ioane grew up in Pacific Harbour, Serua. He attended Lomary Secondary School and later graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Tourism and Industrial Relations at USP as well as a Diploma in Hotel Management from the FIT.



Having worked with various Non-Government Organisations (NGO) such as FRIEND and Model Towns Charitable Trust (Koroipita Project) in Lautoka, Ioane has experience in working in communities and villages on community development.



Ioane also contributed to the development of young people through the National Youth Council of Fiji (NYCF) serving as a General Secretary and looking after the needs of young people through the two highest youth bodies in the country, the Provincial Youth Council of the Fiji Islands (PYFFI) and the Youth Assemblies of Fiji (YAF) He worked with  young people and on issues such as youth with disabilities and minority youth groups to name a few, while at the Youth Council.



As a Children’s Participation Officer at Save the Children, Fiji, Ioane works on advocating and promoting child’s rights and their responsibilities, children’s participation at all levels and having their voices being heard on issues pertinent to them. .



Ioane was awarded the Commonwealth Pacific Youth Worker Award in 2015. He has also looked into the plight of youth workers in the country and how they are faring and is working towards the formation of a Youth Worker Association in the country.



He says young people’s and children’s participation and voice, is very crucial in the development, democratic and decision-making processes of the country. He says that it is prudent and sustainable to include, involve and consult youth and children on issues that directly affect them, as they will be leaders  in the future. Ioane believes the greatest resource that a country can have is its young people. Therefore, building their knowledge and capacity is important to have great leaders of the country.



The Leadership Fiji Fellow also stressed that issues concerning young people and children should not be discussed, without them.

Saturday, 1 September 2018

SODELPA ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

SODELPA believes in “human rights of every individual,” but does not support same-sex marriage

1 September

By Sitiveni L Rabuka, Party Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and former Prime Minister.
Prepared for Fiji Times Saturday 1/9/18 Edition.  


Sexual Orientation as a Prohibited Ground of Discrimination  Section 38 of the ​1997 Constitution​ (the equality provision) specifically prohibited discrimination  on the basis of sexual orientation (Fiji became the second country in the world to protect against  this form of discrimination).

The Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) Government which I  led, was criticised and excoriated for including sexual orientation as a prohibited ground of  discrimination, despite the fact that the 1997 Constitutional Amendment Bill was unanimously  passed by Parliament on 28 July 1997.  

The ​2013 Constitution in Article 26(3) ​bans unfair discrimination based on sexual orientation and  the additional and related prohibited ground of “gender identity or expression.”  

Fiji family laws currently do not provide legal recognition of same-sex marriage or civil unions.  Section 15 of the ​Marriage Act (Cap 50)​ defines “marriage” as “​the voluntary union of one man to one  woman to the exclusion of all others.”  

The role of marriage is outlined in the main UN human rights treaty, the ​ICCPR (International  Convention and Civil Political Rights)​, which in article 23 provides that:    “(1) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to  protection by society and the State.  (2) The right of men and women of marriageable age to marry and to found a family shall  be recognised.”  

The UN Human Rights Committee has ruled that the ICCPR does not grant the right to marry  the same-sex. In accordance with the ICCPR and existing laws SODELPA believes that marriage  is the voluntary union of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others to found a  family.  

To me as a humble Christian, I believe that we should take time and reflect on this issue as a  multiracial, multi-religious and multicultural nation, and we should all continue to embrace  the  universal values of kindness, love and compassion.  

Despite the imposition of “secularity” in the 2013 Constitution, Fiji is a deeply religious nation:  64.4% are Christians, 27.8% are Hindu, while 7% are Muslim and 0.3% have no religion and .5%  did not specify their religion, according to the 2007 census. It is unfortunate that the figures on  religion for the 2017 census have not been released as of today, however I believe religious  composition is still largely the same.

As a Christian, I believe that the Bible commands me to ‘speak the truth in love’ (Ephesians 4:15).  I believe that Christians must proclaim both God's truth and His redemptive grace. There is no  place in this discussion for hatred, hurtful comments or rejection towards those who experience  same-sex attraction or identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual. Jesus teaches us that all  human beings have inherent worth, value and dignity. The priority of love for the Christian is  unquestionable, and the cause of love is advanced by telling the truth with grace and  compassion.  

I believe that sex is given by God as an expression of love to be shared and enjoyed exclusively  between a husband and wife. The Biblical definition of marriage, is of heterosexual marriage. In  expressing the scriptural foundation for the divine purpose and design in marriage, Jesus  referred to its origins in the creation account: "From the beginning of creation, God made them  male and female. For this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his  wife, and the two shall become one flesh..." (Mark 10:6-8, quoting Genesis 2:24).  

The clarity of God's truth on this matter remains unchanged in spite of hermeneutical methods  designed to justify homosexual behavior. The Bible prohibits all kinds of sexual promiscuity –  heterosexual as well as homosexual.  

There is no scriptural support for endorsing sexual immorality (i.e., sexual activity outside the  bond of heterosexual marriage) for anyone, no matter what his or her personal sexual feelings  may be.  

SODELPA is unequivocal in supporting the human rights of all the people of Fiji, however has no  plans to change the definition of marriage as currently provided in the Marriage Act.    

Authorised by:  
Sitiveni L Rabuka
Party Leader

Friday, 31 August 2018

RABUKA - CONCERNS ON LACK OF RESPONSE FROM ELECTORAL COMMISSION


Concerns about lack of response from Electoral Commission

31 August 2018


By Sitiveni L Rabuka, Party Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and former Prime Minister.

Prepared for Fiji Times Saturday 25/8/18 Edition.



[Continued from last week]




Despite collective efforts by SODELPA and five other registered political parties to have genuine dialogue on issues critical to ensure free and fair elections in 2018, the Supervisor of Elections and Electoral Commission continue to be obstructive in response to our genuine concerns.



The six political parties have been collectively working together in the last 15 months making submissions to the Electoral Commission to address issues of concern to ensure the 2018 general election is free, fair and credible.



It is unfortunate that the Electoral Commission has downplayed issues raised in the submissions of 27th July 2018, 6th and 16th August 2018 considered critical to ensure free, fair and credible 2018 elections. The Parties’ Communique is online at http://bit.ly/ElectionsCommunique



Issues Raised for Consideration

The following issues and request for clarification were made to the Electoral Commission in late July and early August 2018, and remain unanswered (items 1-9 were published in last week’s column):



10.  Refusal of the Electoral Commission to approve access to the Regional Hubs by party polling agents to observe the opening of ballot boxes by Presiding Officers.



11. Refusal of the Electoral Commission to confirm that counting at all Polling Stations will begin at 6.00pm on Polling Day. Electoral Commission has confirmed that this is the case at the National Count Center but refuses to confirm the same for all polling stations on polling day.



12. Refusal of the Electoral Commission to explain the involvement of NADRA with Fiji’s elections especially after the recent Pakistan elections where it is under various investigations for irregularities.



13. Parties are disappointed at the extensive Pre-Poll venues where over 70,000 voters will vote and the lack of explanation from the Electoral Commission on how pre-poll venues were selected. Many pre-poll venues are accessible by road from urban centers and it is baffling why they are designated as pre-poll.



14. Refusal of the Electoral Commission to explain why 13 Polling Venues Designated for Disciplined Services are not identified in the list of polling venues for 2018, and why the names of voters for these 13 polling venues are not published in the Voter Roll released by the SOE on 1 August 2018.



15. Parties remain concerned that the Electoral Commission rejects the constitutional responsibility to ensure free and fair elections. Political Parties believe this role includes the responsibility to call for international and domestic observers who should work to their own Terms of Reference rather than one imposed by the Minister responsible for Elections, as in 2014.



16. Parties are gravely concerned about the Supervisor of Elections recent warning on voter education by Civil Society Organisations.



17. It has been a long time practice and convention not to permit political campaign materials to be displayed on land, buildings or property owned by the State, municipal councils and statutory bodies including government commercial companies.  This should be maintained. Public parks, playgrounds  and recreation areas owned by the State or municipal councils should not be exploited for political purposes. Citizens should be able to enjoy these facilities without being bombarded with political messages. It is questionable that Fiji First was allowed by municipal councils to lease huge billboards erected  in public places in collaboration with an advertising company. This is clearly contrary to s112 of the Electoral Decree.



18. Parties remain concerned that Mr. Mohammad Saneem still does not meet the minimum qualification requirements (MQR) for the position of Supervisor of Elections. His appointment was irregularly made in 2014. The Electoral Commission requested the Minister responsible for Elections to re-advertise the position after qualified applicants withdrew, yet Mr. Saneem was appointed to the position despite not meeting the MQR. Further, Saneem’s insubordination to the Commission was confirmed by the High Court in 2017, and two complaints he has filed with FICAC have resulted in acquittals. This has led to questions over whether he has demonstrated an overzealous misuse of his powers (cases against Hon. Ratu Isoa Tikoca and Hon. Mahendra Reddy).



19. Political Parties no longer have confidence in independence, impartiality and credibility of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission Mr. Suresh Chandra, and the Supervisor of Elections Mr. Mohammad Saneem and doubt their ability to deliver free, fair and credible elections for Fiji in 2018.





Observations made at the Meeting of 9 August 2018 with the Electoral Commission

Parties were directed that only Party Leaders and Registered Officers may attend the meeting on 9th August 2018 and that “invitations were not transferable.”



Such decision by the Electoral Commission is an interference with each Party’s decision making machinery and internal arrangements. Parties should be able to make their own decision on their respective representatives to a meeting with the Electoral Commission, based on their internal arrangements..



Questions and concerns raised by registered officers of political parties who attended the meeting on 9/8/18, were not answered or brushed aside by the Electoral Commission.



A notable feature of the meeting was the presence of the Minister responsible for Elections and General Secretary of FijiFirst Party, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum. Rather than encouraging discussions on suggestions and recommendations made by other political parties to ensure free, fair and credible elections, he continued to demand what action the Electoral Commission had taken on the allegations of religious intolerance against a particular provisionally selected candidate. The Electoral Commission Chairman in his response said that they were yet to act on the complaint, while the Supervisor of Election at the same time said that he had filed a complaint with FICAC.



The Electoral Commission Chairman as well as members of other political parties were taken by surprise at the outburst.



Those that attended the meeting were surprised to learn that the Supervisor of Elections (SOE) had already made a complaint to FICAC without the knowledge of the Electoral Commission.



Question was raised on the issue of “conflict of interest” whereby the General Secretary of the FFP is also the Minister responsible for Elections. As the Minister responsible for Elections, he helps to decide the date of the elections and has influence over electoral laws, procedures and processes. At the same time, he is directing the FFP political campaign.



Questions were asked on how electoral laws can be transparently amended when the AG, Hon. Khaiyum is also responsible for the drafting of laws, tabling them in Cabinet as Minister for Elections, while at the same time being General Secretary for FijiFirst.



No satisfactory answer or response was given by the Hon. Khaiyum in either capacity as GS FFP or Minister responsible for elections.



Despite setbacks faced by political parties present, they remain undeterred and committed to a free, fair and credible elections. They urge all voters to remain steadfast and encourage everyone must register to vote, and to vote on their designated polling venue, whether at pre-poll or polling day, or postal voting.



Voters are urged to vote in numbers to bring about political change that is necessary for our collective future.



Voters are also encouraged to exercise their democratic rights and political freedoms  in the formulation of our next government. Voters can offer their services to political parties as polling agents in the 2018 general elections.



Another alternative for consideration is for local groups and organisations that can be considered as domestic election observer groups. However, the approval of the Minister for Elections is required. In 2014 he refused to approve domestic observers.



Despite these setbacks, parties will continue to collectively work together towards a free, fair and credible 2018 elections.





Need for independent election observers

The Party Leaders stressed the need for independent international and domestic observer groups to be present before, during and after the election to monitor the process and validate that the elections are free, fair and credible. Independent Observers must be able to determine their own Terms of Reference (TOR) unlike in 2014 when the Minister for Elections decided their TOR.



Conclusion

Based on the lack of clarity, inconsistency and at times the non-response/or actions to concerns raised in the last 15 months on issues relating to free, fair and credible elections, the Leaders of the six registered political parties reiterated that they don’t have any confidence in the Chairman of the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections.



They are also of the view that the credibility, impartiality and independence of the two constitutional offices have been compromised.


The appointment of the Supervisor in 2014 is also questionable as Mr. Saneem did not meet the minimum qualification requirements stipulated in the Constitution.



//ENDs



Authorised by:
Sitiveni L Rabuka

Party Leader

Rabuka Clarifies Fiji Sun Report on SODELPA Dinner Fundraiser


Error in Fiji Sun Between the Lines Column 31 August 2018 By Sitiveni L Rabuka,Party Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) and former Prime Minister.
Mr. Maika Bolatiki in his column in the Fiji Sun 29/8/18 questioned the purpose of the fundraising dinner for the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) on Saturday September 1st 2018.
The “Between the Lines” column appears to be a device that enables wild speculations to be published without seeking the views of the person or entity being talked about before publication.
Maika Bolatiki asks in the column whether the purpose of the dinner is to raise funds for my legal fees. If he had bothered to ask, as any journalist worth his salt would, to find out the facts, I would have happily clarified his ‘musings’
I find his comments childish and unprofessional, to say the least.
Mr. Bolatiki should get his facts right first, before making assumptions and wild allegations.
He should also follow the Media Code of Ethics and at the very least seek our views before making wild assumptions fed by malicious and ‘faceless’ and ‘inaccurate’ sources.
The fundraising dinner is an initiative of the Party’s fundraising committee. The Party is holding a Special General Assembly meeting earlier in the day and the dinner is a celebratory one, where the candidate lineup for 2018 will be announced.
For Bolatiki’s information, my immediate family and I will foot the legal costs relating to my case.
May I suggest that Mr. Bolatiki refrain from speculatory gossip based on assumptions from unreliable sources.
I call on the media to rise above gossip and being a puppet used by faceless and malicious, calacala ‘sources’
Authorised by:
Sitiveni L Rabuka Party Leader