Fijian Election

SoE dismisses complaint by Mick Beddoes

November 26, 2022 4:35 pm

Mick Beddoes.

The Supervisor of Elections has dismissed the complaint by Mick Beddoes against the FijiFirst Leader Voreqe Bainimarama and General Secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

In dismissing the complaint, the SoE found that Beddoes is incorrect in his assertions in relation to the statements uttered by Bainimarama during the FijiFirst campaign rally in Nausori.

SoE Mohammed Saneem says having reviewed the statements, FEO noted that Bainimarama was in fact providing his opinion on the aftermath of any person attempting to enter into a property that is currently classified as Freehold.

Article continues after advertisement

FijiFirst, in its letter, has offered further explanations (which are legally valid) supporting the opinion offered by its leader.

Saneem says Beddoes did not provide any evidence in his complaint that the utterances by the FijiFirst leader urged the commission or intended that the offence incited be committed. In fact, it appears that Beddoes has been the victim of the opinion of others published in some media instead.

Further to this, the FEO notes that it is impossible to find that Bainimarama intended, insinuated or invited any person to commit or omit taking such action from the allegations and evidence contained in the complaint.

The FEO also notes that the legal test for inflammatory speeches requires that the speech is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action, and the speech is “likely to incite or produce such action.

He adds the complaint from Beddoes does not provide any evidence that either of the above tests are proven.

Saneem says the complainants must ensure that they support their complaints with a comprehensive list of evidence to ensure that the FEO is able to deal with it adequately. In this case, the FEO did not receive any response from Beddoes to the response from FijiFirst.

FEO found that the analysis by Bainimarama in his capacity as the leader of the FijiFirst during the campaign period of the outcome of some of the other parties’ campaign promises does not tantamount to inciting or threatening a person for the purposes of the discussion that happened during the campaign rally.

The SoE says the statement merely amounts to the opinion of Bainimarama on the possibilities if such policies are introduced by a political party in this general election. Therefore, the allegation against Bainimarama has been dismissed as there was no breach of section 116(3)(c) of the Electoral Act.

The FEO also notes that the complaints against Aiyaz-Sayed Khaiyum contain factual inaccuracies and are mischievous. It is noted that Aiyaz-Sayed Khaiyum acted in his capacity as the Minister responsible for Communications while launching Free Wi-Fi and digital TV at Lautoka market and that this is a budgeted initiative.

He adds it appears to be an attempt to restrain ministers from discharging their legal functions under the guise of campaign law breach.

The FEO has already, in previous matters outlined that the law does not prohibit any person from continuing their functions in their official capacity and therefore, this complaint is dismissed accordingly.