Fijian Election

FEO unhappy with ABC's response

December 9, 2022 4:40 pm

The Fijian Elections Office says it disagrees with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s stance that their reporter presented both sides of the story in the article titled, “Fiji’s Attorney General caught in extraordinary dispute days out from the national election.”

This afternoon, the Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem says ABC has been put on notice and they will need to retract the story and issue a public apology before 4pm tomorrow.

He says if this is not done, then FEO will take legal action and also not limited to canceling ABC’s accreditation to cover the 2022 General Election.

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“We are still giving the ABC this opportunity to apologise to the people of Fiji and correct their story. You are news organisation that is not based in Fiji. You have done something that has offended the people of Fiji. It is time for you to now take the humble pie, offer your apology, correct the mistake and let’s move on.”

This comes as the ABC responded to the FEO, saying it stood by the journalist Lice Movono, despite the elections head, hitting out at what he calls biased and misinformed reporting.

The NFP claimed that FijiFirst General Secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum visited Star Printery in Raiwaqa in the early hours of last Thursday, and the reason for his visit is unknown.

It also claimed that Sayed-Khaiyum ordered that the CCTV cameras on the premises be turned off and that he refused to leave at the request of FEO officials because ballot papers were being printed.

However, this was refuted by the FEO, who ruled that the claims were based on misinformation and took out a statement on the matter.

The SoE says the response from them was not used by the ABC in an appropriate manner.

Saneem states that FEO finds ABC’s response to be unprincipled and unconscientious when they stated that they found the story written by Movono, the ABC correspondent to be impartial, fair, and balanced.

He adds that Movono’s news story raised questions on the independence of the electoral process in Fiji without disclosing the full response from FEO.

Saneem has further questioned the fairness of the story saying that Movono aims to demean the electoral process in Fiji due to her political affiliation.

He adds that FEO acknowledges that ABC had stated that their coverage on the other platforms such as radio and online covered the fact in detail.

However, Saneem questioned why this approach was not taken by Movono in detailing the full fact in her coverage.

Saneem says ABC has accepted that their publication did not contain the vital information that printing of ballot papers had concluded before the claims.

He further says that the FEO also notes that they should have pointed out that the printing of ballot papers had concluded, and the ballot books had been transported.

However, they strongly refuted FEO’s claim that it is an attempt to conceal information from the audience.

Saneem says it is apparent that Movono did not approach the FEO or the Attorney-General in this matter to confirm the presence at the printer.

The SOE reiterated that one can only infer that Movono’s interest in this matter relayed the coverage in such a manner that showed FEO was politically biased.

Yesterday, Sayed-Khaiyum provided evidence including airline boarding passes, stating that he wasn’t even in Suva on December 1.

ABC has not as yet responded to our questions.