FijiFirst Party General Secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum has clarified he was in Labasa on the 1st of December after allegations by National Federation Party claiming he was at Star Printery at 4am when ballot papers were being printed.
He has also criticized a report by Australian Broadcasting Corporation and says a major Australian news outlet is seeking to undermine the electoral process in the sovereign democratic country of Fiji, completely relying on one person to give a synopsis on what is happening in Fiji.
Sayed-Khaiyum says this is something that they are going to raise with the Multinational Observer Group and they will be writing a letter to the ABC and raise it to the relevant authorities.
Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem says ballot paper production had concluded at the Star Printery on the 28th of November and the last batch of ballot books were transported from the printer just after 7pm under police escort and in the presence of media, police and political party agents and observers.
He says to put it in simple terms, after the ballot paper production ended on the 28th of November, the FEO engagement with Star Printery for ballot paper production ended and it also meant that no more ballot papers would be printed at the said premises.
In a press conference at the FijiFirst Headquarters, Sayed-Khaiyum says the National Federation Party has pulled something out of its hat, decided to write a letter of complaint with absolutely no evidence whatsoever.
Sayed-Khaiyum also showed his boarding pass to the media.
Sayed-Khaiyum says National Federation Party without a single shred of evidence put out this complaint and says now someone has taken a screenshot of his visit in 2019, when he went to visit Star Printery for some other work and circulating that.
Sayed-Khaiyum asks where is NFP Leader, Professor Biman Prasad who is getting their Registered Officer, Dalip Kumar to write.
He also says ordinary Fijians need to be concerned about a political party like NFP who are trying to undermine the electoral process and asks how can you trust a party with absolutely no shred of evidence implying ballot papers may be interfered with when ballot papers are not being printed there.
He says it is extraordinary that the media decided to report that as if it was a fact and it is even more extraordinary that the ABC decided to run a story on it and the manner in which they ran the story as if it was a fact and even more extraordinarily when they ran the story, they did not cover the major response by the Supervisor of Elections that the ballot papers were no longer being printed there because they had already being printed three days prior to that.
He says the entire allegation was on the basis that when the ballot papers were being printed, he tried to interfere with that and then the Supervisor of Elections did provide a response and if you listen to the ABC story, it is completely biased and ABC decided completely to rely on what the journalist said.
Sayed-Khaiyum says everyone is aware of the journalist’s proclivity and she does not hide the fact on her Facebook that she does not like the FijiFirst Party, she wants the Government to be changed and then she obviously puts her spin on the story but very dangerously, ABC takes it as a gospel truth.
He says ABC in that video did not report that the ballot papers have stopped being printed three days prior to that.
The FFP Candidate says all journalists were invited to the beginning of the printing, to how the ballot papers were going to be taken care of with respect to police supervision and all were invited to the end of the printing and the journalist did not come.
He says none of the media saw fit to point it out and are equally responsible that nobody picked up the fact that ABC Australia got it wrong and for them, it shows a particular bias on the part of many media outlets in Fiji.
He says it goes to show that a reporter like the ABC journalist in Fiji cannot be trusted.
Sayed-Khaiyum says ABC never got in touch with them, he never got a call from the journalist or her associate to ask if it is true.
He says basic journalism and basic enquiry of facts was not followed yet the media has remained mum about it and here we have ABC Australia running the story and undermining democratic processes in a sovereign country because they rely on a person who has a political proclivity.
He says they should know the background of their reporters and do a background check on them and they obviously have not.
Sayed-Khaiyum says there is nothing stopping the journalist to having a political view and she can join whichever political party but do not hold your self out to be an independent journalist when actually you are not.
He says they are simply interested in ensuring that we have credible and fair elections and there are people every step of the way wanting to derail the entire process.
When contacted earlier for a comment, Professor Prasad had referred all questions to Kumar who says the party will discuss the matter before making further comments.
We have also sent further questions to the ABC for a response following comments made by Sayed-Khaiyum.
fijivillage wishes to clarify that we did not run a biased article based on a letter by the NFP to the FEO and the FEO’s response as we had sent questions to Sayed-Khaiyum yesterday and waited for his response.
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