Residents and ratepayers of Suva are calling for reserved seats for women in the municipal elections.
While speaking at the Local Government Act consultations in Suva, Assistant Professor at the Fiji National University, Mosmi Bhim says a few months back, there were consultations on what should be amended in the Local Government Act in which, many women recommended that there should be reserved seats for women in the municipal council elections however, this is not part of the proposed amendment.
Bhim says the reason many women do not stand in elections is because, they bear the disproportionally high rate of their responsibilities in the house.
Shivam Bharat of Suva says there needs to be equal opportunity for women in the councils as well as uniformity and gender equality.
Meanwhile, Joe Vuniwai of SODELPA says that NGOs should encourage women to participate in municipal elections because most women themselves turn to vote for male candidates during the elections.
Vishwa Deo, a ratepayer says the proposed amendments in the Act are aligned with the Fijian constitution and the Electoral Act however, he says the voter eligibility should be increased from 3 months to 6 or 12 months.
He says 3 months will create hiccups in the municipal council elections which looks at all the towns and cities where people come and go as tenants.
He says there should also be some sort of declaration for the residents so that people from other areas do not come to vote outside their area.
Deo says candidates of a municipality must be a resident and ratepayer because a time will come when there will be only residents comprising of all the councillors sitting in the council who do not contribute anything.
He says people with dual citizenship should also be allowed to contest the elections because they have their properties within the municipalities.
However, Asis Kumar who is a retired teacher says the residency requirement for the candidates must be at least 12 to 24 months.
Approximately 30 people attended the Local Government Electoral Act consultations at the Suva Civic Centre.
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