It is within my statutory right says Mataiciwa

March 19, 2024 4:32 pm

Deputy Prime Minister Professor Biman Prasad [left] and acting Supervisor of Elections Ana Mataiciwa

Acting Supervisor of Elections Ana Mataiciwa this afternoon responded to queries made by Deputy Prime Minister Professor Biman Prasad.

Prasad had yesterday expressed surprise at the referral of a complaint against him to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The complaint, alleging false and non-declaration of assets, purportedly breaches the Political Parties Act 2014.

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Professor Prasad stated that the Fijian Elections Office had not presented these allegations to him for response or comment.

He questioned the decision of the Acting Registrar of Political Parties and Supervisor of Elections to refer the matter to FICAC without seeking answers from him first.

Mataiciwa in her response says she is within her statutory rights to act on the complaint.

She says if the Electoral Commission or the Supervisor becomes aware at any time of the probable commission of an election-related criminal offense, including any criminal offense prescribed in this Act, it must immediately report the matter in writing to FICAC, and all election officials must fully cooperate in the investigation of any election-related offense.

The Acting SoE says her office received the complaint, the complaints process was followed, and after assessment, powers under Section 18 of the Act were invoked, requesting FICAC to investigate a ‘probable’ breach.

She adds that this must not be misconstrued as finding the DPM guilty of any offense.

Mataiciwa further stated that the referral of the complaint to the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption was not only within her statutory rights as the ASoE to act on the complaint but equally under her statutory duty to refer the matter.

In summary, the ASoE acted in accordance with her legal obligations outlined in the Electoral Act 2014 by referring the matter to FICAC for investigation. This underscores the ASoE’s dedication to upholding independence, electoral integrity, and transparency.

Mataiciwa adds that, in respect of FICAC’s statutory role to investigate probable breaches of the three existing electoral laws, all inquiries regarding this complaint should be directed to FICAC.