The Supervisor of Elections has referred the Leader of Opposition, Sitiveni Rabuka to the Speaker of Parliament, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau for statements that were made in the media release by Rabuka on Wednesday.
Mohammed Saneem says Rabuka had personally attacked Saneem instead of directing comments on the office held by Saneem.
The Supervisor of Elections says the press statement is riddled with attacks personally directed at Saneem including various unsubstantiated allegations.
In referring the matter to the Speaker, Saneem said he was rather surprised yet saddened by the unbecoming behaviour of the Leader of Opposition, a person who is holding an elected office in Parliament and who has chosen to attack a constitutional office holder personally, instead of tackling matters and issues at hand.
Saneem says it is also rather appalling that the Leader of Opposition has chosen to use derogatory words as well as personal vilification in his release, tantamount to an outburst, whereas it is generally expected of his Office to maintain a very high level of décor and professionalism.
Saneem also pointed out that neither the Leader of Opposition nor the Party have directly approached the Fijian Elections Office seeking information or particulars prior to the media release.
He says the Fijian Elections Office, as well as the office of the Supervisor of Elections, remain open to any enquiries that political parties may have, however, Saneem highlights that it is rather bizarre for one of the highest offices in the land to resort to such derogatory tactics as well as personalization of matters which could rather be dealt with in a very professional and formal manner.
SODELPA gathers petition to oppose Fijian Elections Office requirements
SODELPA has now started gathering signatures for a petition against the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem’s decision for the green voter ID cards to only be replaced after citing a birth certificate and one other official ID, and married women not allowed to use their husband's surname in the voter card unless they change their name via deed poll.
SODELPA Leader, Sitiveni Rabuka says many people do not agree with these mandatory requirements and they only have two days to sign the petition, as they will present the petition in parliament next Tuesday.
Rabuka says the outcry and concern over Saneem’s apparently unilateral decision that voters are required to renew their voter ID cards and banning married women from using their husband’s surname unless they changed their name by deed poll, is absurd.
He says he intends to table in parliament a “Peoples’ Petition to Protect the Right to Vote” next week.
The SODELPA Leader says Saneem is making dictatorial decisions that affect every single family in Fiji, the majority ofwhom are facing hardship. Rabuka says Saneem enjoys a high salary and perks, and has no concern for the over 600,000 voters subject to his whims.
Rabuka claims this requirement for birth certificate to renew the green voter ID card appears to be an attempt to please the Attorney General and Minister for Economy, to help generate government revenue by forcing people to pay the exorbitant fees for birth certificates.
The SODELPA Leader says even banks accept married women using their husband’s surname, so why can’t the Elections Office acceptthe old card or check their own database as those people have already registered.
Rabuka says for the ordinary family, this is at the minimum a precious $20 for birth certificates for mum and dad. He says this does not include the cost of taking time off work to get a birth certificate, to line up at the Voter Centre to get a new card, or the transport costs.
Rabuka says people in rural areas and outer islands, will have no choice but to pay the $15 fee each for the birth certificate from the Post Office.
He says the poorest will pay the most while the privileged few will not blink at the fee.
We have sought comments from Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama and Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.
The law is clear – Mohammed Saneem
Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem says the law is clear on getting official names for registrations and that is why birth certificates need to be cited for the replacement of the green voter ID cards.
Saneem says married women can only use the surname of their husband in their voter ID card if they have a deed poll.
The Supervisor of Elections also says that they are getting the official registered names because the Fijian Elections Office verifies the voter list with births records at the registry to ensure the voter list is properly compiled.
Saneem says the names have to be accurate and they do not want any confusion on election day.
He also says that they are an independent institution and the voter card requirements are not set by the Minister for Economy or the Attorney General.
Saneem also says that under the law, you can vote with any ID but you have to turn up at the right voting venue. The new blue voter ID card has the additional information on where the voter has to vote.
He also confirms that when the Fijian Elections Office will go to the rural and maritime areas, they will make necessary arrangements to go with all the required offices including the Births Office staff.
Last year, the FEO received 11,536 applications for correction of details while it is common knowledge that 2019 was not an election year.
Saneem says to make things clear, the current procedure is that the FEO will sight the Birth Certificate or a certified True Copy of the Birth Certificate and thereafter confirm the details of the voter on the Electronic Voter Registration System and the Birth Certificate will then be returned to the voter.
He says with 644,749 voters already on the Voters Register and over 8,880 new registrations in 2019 alone, it is rather frivolous to allude that this exercise is aimed at voter suppression or the like.
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