The FijiFirst did not breach Section 112 of the Electoral Act and the People’s Alliance complaint appears to stem from a misconceived interpretation of the legal requirements, and is therefore dismissed accordingly.
That is the ruling by the Fijian Elections Office according to the Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem.
The FEO says it received a complaint from the People’s Alliance on 15th July 2022 alleging breaches of Section 112 of the Electoral Act by FijiFirst.
Saneem says in accordance with principles of natural justice, the complaint was forwarded to FijiFirst for a response.
The FEO received a response from FijiFirst on 19th July 2022.
Saneem says the FEO has found that the fourteen samples that were attached to the complaint were published on FijiFirst’s Facebook page but they were not physically printed and distributed; Section 112 (1)(a) of the Electoral Act applies to printed material and therefore does not apply in this case; the distribution of the materials were only in electronic mode through FijiFirst’s Facebook page which meant that it did not cost anything and no payments would be involved. In this case, section 112(1)(b) of the Electoral Act 2014 is not applicable; there were no companies involved in the printing of the material which means section 112(1)(c) is not applicable; and the date of issue of the material would be the date that the post was published.
Saneem says they also note that the People’s Alliance did not provide links, or screenshots of the actual posts which carried the material complained about. He says in the circumstances, the date of the post would be regarded as the date of issue.
The People’s Alliance had earlier written a letter of complaint to Saneem citing several alleged breaches of campaign rules by the FijiFirst.
They say the letter which was delivered to the Fijian Elections Office referred to 15 samples of campaign materials that the FijiFirst had posted prominently on its Facebook page.
The party claims the campaign materials do not meet requirements stipulated in the Electoral Act 2014.
People’s Alliance General Secretary, Sakiasi Ditoka had said that these campaign materials can be viewed on the FijiFirst Facebook page and the party’s posting of these flyers are clearly campaign materials given the language, pictures, diagram, photos and information they contain promote and advertise FijiFirst.
The People’s Alliance is yet to comment on Saneem’s announcement.
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