Sayed-Khaiyum says ministerial assignments shows Elections Office came under the Office of the PM during the Qarase, Chaudhry and Rabuka governments

Sayed-Khaiyum says ministerial assignments shows Elections Office came under the Office of the PM during the Qarase, Chaudhry and Rabuka governments

By Navitalai Naivalurua , Vijay Narayan
Tuesday 18/10/2022
Fiji First General Secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

The General Secretary for the FijiFirst Party, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says according to the ministerial assignments gazetted on the 23rd of June, 2006, the departments under the Prime Minister's Office were the Office of the Supervisor of Elections, the Constituency Boundaries Commission and the Electoral Commission.

While responding to The People's Alliance's statement on conflict of interest, Sayed-Khaiyum says when Sitiveni Rabuka and Mahendra Chaudhry held the Prime Minister’s post, they also had ministerial assignments similar to Laisenia Qarase.

He also called on the Deputy Leader of The People's Alliance, Manoa Kamikamica, to apologise to them for having the audacity or the inaptitude to come up and say that they are lying.

Sayed-Khaiyum says, unfortunately, what is really disconcerting is certain media organisations continue to simply parrot anything that is being said by one or two political parties and run it as the gospel truth.

He adds this gazette notices are available in any law firm, government, and the National Archives.

The FijiFirst General Secretary also highlighted the ministerial assignments for 2001, 1999, 1997, 1994 and 1992.

Sayed-Khaiyum says in those days, the Supervisor of Elections Office accounts were done through the Prime Minister’s Office and not independent like we have today.

He adds that they have seen continuously CFL and Fiji Times running these stories, simply parroting without taking out time to investigate whether they are true or not.

Sayed-Khaiyum says they do not make statements willy-nilly but make statements based on facts.

Meanwhile People’s Alliance Deputy Leader, Manoa Kamikamica had said they are of the firm belief that the General Secretary of the FijiFirst Party, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum is severely compromised, as he is seriously in an alleged conflict of interest situation.

Kamikamica maintains that you cannot be General Secretary of a political party that is contesting the upcoming general elections as the ruling party, and also hold the ministerial positions of Attorney General as well as the Minister Responsible for Justice, for the Fijian Elections Office and FICAC.

Kamikamica says if this is not conflict of interest to you, then he does not know what is.

He says in fact the man himself, Sayed-Khaiyum told the media two weeks ago that he sees no conflict of interest and he wanted to be shown the conflict.

Kamikamica says more recently, the best example of conflict of interest reared its head when the FijiFirst Party put up signage at the Suva Civic Carpark in clear breach and contravention of the law and wasn’t immediately referred to FICAC.

He says in fact, the FijiFirst was given time to take down the sign.

Kamikamica says there was no investigation into issues like - was the sign truly authorized by the General Secretary, was there a contractual relationship between SCC and the FijiFirst and how much was paid for the sign and was it an arm’s length transaction. He also says because of the different ways the parties have been treated, this is exactly why the doctrine of conflict exists.

Kamikamica also stresses that Sayed-Khaiyum owes the family of the late Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase an apology.

The People’s Alliance Deputy Leader says Qarase never held the portfolio of Minister for Elections.

News articles from 2014 were shared where Qarase said in a parliamentary democracy, all government agencies must come under a ministerial portfolio. He said both the Electoral Commission and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections have always come under the Prime Minister's portfolio, and he said as Prime Minister from 2000-2006, his role was two-fold in relation to the two agencies.

Qarase said firstly, he was expected to deal with their submissions for budgetary allocations and, secondly, he had a duty to respond to parliamentary questions as they arose.

Qarase stressed that in no way did he influence or interfere in the work of the Electoral Commission or the Supervisor of Elections, and he is aware that the Prime Ministers who preceded him played a similar role.

Qarase added that since Independence in 1970, there has never been a Minister for Elections.

Qarase said the reason for this is that both the Electoral Commission and the Office of the Supervisor of Elections must carry out their functions within the laws regulating their operations, with complete independence and without interference from the Government in power.

He said this golden rule had been broken for the first time by the Bainimarama-Sayed-Khaiyum regime with the appointment of the Attorney General as Minister Responsible for Elections.

Qarase said Sayed-Khaiyum must do the right thing and step down from the position of Minister for Elections.

When asked on Qarase's comments, Sayed-Khaiyum says the gazettes set out exactly who was the Minister Responsible for Elections, and it was Qarase.

Sayed-Khaiyum has also said that the matter about the FijiFirst banner is already with FICAC and everyone should let it do it's job.

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