Publish date/time: 24/06/2008 [17:10]
The National Council for Building a Better Fiji (NCBBF) has resolved that electoral reform is a must for Fiji before the country goes to the polls.
Following their two day meeting, the NCBBF today announced major recommendations to the current Electoral Act including a change in the current Alternative Voting System.
Several recommendations have been made, including the complete abolishment of the communal representation system as provided for under the constitution and the Electoral Act 1998, and to replace this with the use of a common roll for all future elections.
It has also been recommended that the electoral voting system as provided for under the constitution and Electoral Act be reformed, to enable the adoption of a proportional representation system and that the Open List System be strongly recommended as the preferred electoral system in the public consultations on electoral reform. The NCBBF has also recommended after receiving a report from one of its working groups, that these proposed electoral reforms be implemented before the next elections.
The National Council has also resolved, that the voting age be reduced from 21 to 18 years, the abolition of compulsory voting and that the specific anti-discrimination measures, be incorporated into Fiji’s electoral laws to ensure no person is discriminated against by political parties on the grounds of race, religion, gender or circumstance.
The NCBBF has also recommended the removal of the mandatory power sharing arrangement, as provided under subsections 99(5) to (9) of the constitution and due consideration to be given to provide for the formation of a truly representative cabinet.
Section 99(5) to (9) of the constitution deals with the establishing of the cabinet and criteria set out for the political parties who can qualify for cabinet seats.
While speaking in a press conference after the NCBBF decided on these recommendations this afternoon, Co-Chair of the Council, Archbishop Petero Mataca said the changes are necessary for the benefit of Fiji.
When questioned by Fijivillage on the stance of the NCBBF on political parties like the SDL, NFP and United Peoples Party, that the electoral system should not be changed and all these reforms will be unconstitutional as they have to go through parliament, the Interim Attorney General said this will not stop the NCBBF from moving ahead.
He said those matters can be discussed at the upcoming political forum.
Interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said these recommendations to reform the electoral system will now be taken back to the people, their views will be taken into account and then a report on the recommended changes will be tabled in the proposed political forum.
The Co-Chairs, Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama and Archbishop Mataca are expected to send the recommended electoral changes to the leaders of all political parties later today. The political forum will either be held in July or August. The final decision will be made when Commonwealth representative Sir Paul Reeves arrives in the country early next month.