SOE refers probable electoral breaches by Bainimarama and Tabuya to FICAC

SOE refers probable electoral breaches by Bainimarama and Tabuya to FICAC

By Vijay Narayan
Friday 24/05/2024
Supervisor of Election, Ana Mataiciwa

Supervisor of Election, Ana Mataiciwa has referred two matters of probable commission of electoral breaches to FICAC, and these relate to the FijiFirst appointment of its Party Leader, Voreqe Bainimarama and the People’s Alliance Party’s Lynda Tabuya, respectively.

Mataiciwa says with regards to the appointment of the FijiFirst Party Leader, on 9th May 2024, former FijiFirst General Secretary, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum conducted a press conference and made statements to the effect that former Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama will continue to be the Party Leader of FijiFirst.

She says on the same day, Bainimarama was convicted for the offence of attempting to pervert the course of justice and sentenced to a term of 1 year imprisonment.

Mataiciwa says she understands that this conviction has been appealed but Section 5(3) of the Political Parties Act states that, a person is disqualified from being an office holder of a political party if that person has, in the 5 years preceding the date when he or she applies to become an office holder of the political party been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than 6 months.

Mataiciwa says an office holder refers to someone that is either elected or appointed by the members of the political party to hold office in that political party.

She says at the moment, Bainimarama continues his appointment as Party Leader despite not meeting the requirements of Section 5(3) of the Act.

Mataiciwa says the endorsement of the appointment of Bainimarama as Party Leader may be an offence relating to the Act. She also confirms that the Fijian Elections Office has received a complaint against Lynda Tabuya and the FEO is of the position that the allegation contained in the complaint maybe an offence relating to the Act.

Apart from these matters, the FEO has also, to date, referred the following individuals to FICAC for probable commission of electoral breaches: 1. The Hon. Charan Jeath Singh - Referred to FICAC on 31 Oct 2023 2. Mr. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum - Referred to FICAC on 15 Feb 2024 3. Mr. Voreqe Bainimarama - Referred to FICAC on 15 Feb 2024 4. H.E. President Ratu Willame Katonivere - Referred to FICAC on 15 Feb 2024 5. The Hon. Biman Prasad - Referred to FICAC on 05 April 2024 6. Mr. Usaia Waqatairewa - Referred to FICAC on 20 Mar 2024 7. The Hon. Lynda Tabuya - Referred to FICAC on 05 April 2024 8. Mr. Josaia Gonewai - Referred to FICAC on 14 May 2024 9. The Hon. Manoa Kamikamica - Referred to FICAC on 05 April 2024 10. The Hon. Siromi Turaga - Referred to FICAC on 05 April 2024 11. Ms. Tanya Waqanika - Referred to FICAC on 14 May 2024 12. Mr. Viliame Takawaya - Referred to FICAC on 14 May 2024 13. The Hon. Aseri Radrodro - Referred to FICAC on 14 May 2024 14. The Hon. Ifereimi Vasu - Referred to FICAC on 14 May 2024 15. The Hon. Semi Koroilavesau - Referred to FICAC on 14 May 2024 16. The Hon. Faiyaz Siddiq Koya - Referred to FICAC on 14 May 2024 17. Mr. Semesa Karavaki - Referred to FICAC on 14 May 2024

Mataiciwa says she would like to emphasize that the FEO is under a statutory duty to promptly refer these matters to FICAC.

She says by invoking her powers under Section 18 of the Electoral Act 2014, she has merely asked FICAC to look into the “probable” commission of electoral breaches.

Mataiciwa says the use of the words, “immediately report the matter” does not afford the FEO any other choice. She says procedural fairness will be provided to these individuals when FICAC carries out its assessments on the matters.

Mataiciwa stresses that these referrals must not be misconstrued as finding these individuals guilty of any offence.

She reiterates her dedication to continuously uphold independence, impartiality, electoral integrity, accountability and transparency.

She adds that all inquiries regarding these complaints should be directed to FICAC.

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