Sunday, 6 August 2017

Rabuka says electoral management system to be audited by certified international organisations and experts


RABUKA WANTS INDEPENDENT AUDIT OF ELECTION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM BY REPUTABLE, INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNISED, SYSTEM TESTING AND CERTIFICATION ORGANISATION

6 August 2017

SODELPA Leader calls for internationally recognised and certified experts to carry out the audit of the Election Management System developed by Pakistan NADRA for the Fiji Elections Office

Rabuka calls for Electoral Commission to fully implement electoral reforms recommended by the five political parties on 18 May 2017

Former PM Rabuka calls for Electoral Commission to respond to political parties’ submission for electoral reform.

The Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), and former Prime Minister, Sitiveni L Rabuka recommended that the elections management system developed by NADRA for the Elections Office should be audited by a reputable and internationally recognised system testing and certification organisation. He said that for the electoral management system (EMS) to be acceptable and credible, it must be checked and certified by credible 'overseers'.

A voter casts her ballot during the 2014 general elections. Photo: Radio New Zealand
http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/324530/chair-of-fiji-elections-commission-vows-independence


Rabuka said that there are various international and intergovernmental bodies which are recognised experts on the international standards for free and fair elections and the experts to carry out the proper audit of the EMS can be sourced or recommended by these international bodies.

“The international and intergovernmental bodies include the Institute for Democracy and International Assistance (IDEA), the UN Development Program (UNDP), the European Union, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and IFES (International Foundation for Electoral Systems). Some of these bodies being NGOs or IGOs were excluded in the 2014 general elections under the Electoral Decrees unless approved by the Attorney General.”

“SODELPA recommends that the audit of the electoral management system developed by NADRA, be carried out by a systems testing and certification expert or experts, under the auspices of an organisation that is internationally recognised, credible and reputable and preferably certified by IDEA, IFES, UN DESA, EU or the UNDP.”

Rabuka said SODELPA and four other registered political parties made the recommendation for audit and certification of the software and systems used for the elections to the Fiji Electoral Commission in their May 18, 2017 submission for reform of the electoral laws and procedures, to ensure free and fair elections in 2018. Rabuka said this was one of 121 recommendations made by the five political parties, and while SODELPA welcomes the attempt of the Electoral Commission to allay fears about the integrity of the electoral management system (EMS), the Commission had not gone far enough in implementing the required reforms to the electoral system for free and fair elections in 2018.


The peoples’ right to free and fair elections
“The 2013 Constitution, like the 1997 Constitution and 1970 Constitution guarantees the right of every citizen of Fiji, the right and entitlement to free, fair and regular elections, as well as the right to a political opinion, and the right to choose their government by secret ballot, in free and fair elections.”

“The right to choose your government by secret ballot, in free and fair elections, is an internationally recognised human right, they are our rights, by virtue of being human and is not a privilege granted by the government, but are human rights which are inherent, inalienable and indivisible from our other fundamental human rights and freedoms. This right is recognised in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These rights are binding on the state, the government and its institutions, like the Electoral Commission which has specific responsibility to deliver free and fair elections to our people and our nation.”

Fijians queue up to vote at the Vatuwaqa Primary School on September 17, 2014. Peter Parks/AFP
http://www.rappler.com/world/regions/asia-pacific/69348-fiji-stages-first-election-since-2006-coup

The need for a genuine electoral process that is free and fair
“A genuine, credible democratic electoral process which is free and fair, is part of establishing a government that can ensure respect for human rights, the rule of law and the development of democratic institutions.”

“I commend the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Suresh Chandra, as reported in the Fiji Times on 4 August 2017, where he announced that there would be an audit of the Electoral Management System (EMS) developed by the Pakistani National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for the Fiji Elections Office.”

Chandra is reported to have said that  "to ensure transparency, the new software developed by Pakistani company NADRA for the Fijian Elections Office's electoral management services (EMS) will be audited by an independent qualified IT expert".

The role of the Electoral Commission to ensure free and fair elections
“I call on the Electoral Commission, which is tasked with the Constitutional responsibility to deliver free, fair and regular elections to the people of Fiji, to carry out its role without fear, or favor, to bring about the necessary changes to our electoral system. While the Commissioners are appointed by the ruling FijiFirst Party, they should not be beholden to the FFP which appointed it, but instead, carry out their constitutional mandate in the interest of the people of Fiji, rather than whichever political party happens to be in power.”

“I therefore also express my grave concern about the comment of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Suresh Chandra’s statement (FT 4/8/17) that... "the data to be inserted in the software could not be revealed because it was not for the public and political parties".

“If this is not for public and political parties, then who is it for? It is unacceptable and worrying that this information is only for the government or the Minister responsible for Elections who is the General Secretary of the ruling FijiFirst political party. There is nothing secretive or sacrosanct in the management of the Fiji Elections Office. Everything has to be transparent and above board, otherwise the credibility of the electoral process is very much in question.”

“I call on Mr. Chandra to respond to the political parties submission directly, rather than making piecemeal reforms and partially adopting some of the recommendations made by the parties, without acknowledgement, and without fully implementing the recommendations.”

The submission by the political parties for electoral reforms
“The five political parties’ joint submission for electoral reform is based on the recommendations of the Electoral Commission made in 2014, as well as the report of the Multi-national Observer Group (MOG) on the 2014 general elections.”

“We made the recommendations for reform in the interest of the people of Fiji, for free, fair and credible elections in 2018 and we remind the Electoral Commissioners that they do not serve on the Commission only for themselves, or for the political party in power, but are tasked with a sacred responsibility by the Constitution to deliver fully free, fair and credible elections in 2018 to the people of Fiji. Their duty is to the people of Fiji.”

ENDS//

Links

  1. June 20, 2017: SODELPA concerned about appointment of Pakistan National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) for FEO Elections Management System contract - http://bit.ly/Rabuka-FEO-Nadra
  2. May 18, 2017 Submission by the five political parties (SODELPA, FLP, NFP, PDP, FUFP) to the Electoral Commission - http://bit.ly/fjElectoralRefomSubm
  3. Correspondence between the five political parties and the Electoral Commission - http://bit.ly/PolCorrespondenceEC
  4. 2014 Report of the Electoral Commission (including recommendations for electoral reform) - http://bit.ly/EC_AnnualReport_2014
  5. 2014 Final Report of the Elections Multinational Observer Group (MOG) - http://bit.ly/MOGfinalReport
  6. Joint Report of the Electoral Commission and Supervisor of Elections 2014 -  http://bit.ly/EC_SOE_Joint_Report_2014
  7. Public Petition for Electoral Reform - http://bit.ly/PetitionElectoralReform

Authorised by:

Party Leader & Former Prime Minister, Sitiveni L Rabuka
Social Democratic Liberal Party of Fiji
Email: contactus@sodelpafiji.org
Telephone: +679 330 1544