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Elections Supervisor slams Fiji Times over front page story

March 22, 2021 2:25 pm
The Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem

The Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem, says the headline “Power to fine” in this morning’s front page of the Fiji Times is incorrect.

The newspaper has reported that the Supervisor of Elections and the Electoral Commission under the proposed amendments have powers to fine and jail persons publishing materials undermining public confidence on his duty and function.

Saneem stresses such powers lie with the court of law and not the Electoral Commission or the Supervisor of Elections despite what was written by veteran journalist, Anish Chand.

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“That is not the role of the Supervisor of Elections nor the Electoral Commission. It has been suggested in the article that section 144(a)(vi) gives the power to the SOE or the EC to fine and jail persons publishing materials that undermine public confidence, this is grossly incorrect.”

He adds the provisions have to be read in entirety to grasp the true intention of this provision.

Saneem has also clarified another story by The Fiji Times that a former Wailotua Polling Centre Presiding Officer from the last election, Biu Solia has questioned the transparency of electoral processes while making submissions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Justice, Law and Human Rights.

Saneem pulled records from the 2018 General Election and highlighted that Biu Solia was not at any time employed by the Fijian Elections Office.

“Nobody has to cross a river to get to this polling station. The Presiding Officer at this Polling Station was Mr. Waisiki Tamani. There is no record of any person of the name Biu Solia to have undertaken any role as an election official at Wailotua Polling Station.”

The Supervisor of Elections says this matter of impersonating an elections official will be referred to the Fiji Independent Commission against Corruption.

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