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Elections Confirmed

Issue No: 936 13 July 2001

The President Ratu Josefa Iloilo has issued the writs for national elections. Iloilo signed the writs for the 71 constituency elections yesterday.

The elections are now scheduled to be held from 25 August to 1 September. Nomination day is scheduled for 26 July and objections to nominations for 27 July.

Meanwhile the regime's preparations for elections have left many people disillusioned. Numerous complaints have been received that voters are not provided with the convenience of registration as used to be in the past. This time, registration booklets are not given to political parties or volunteers. People have to travel to the District Offices to get themselves registered.

In addition, numerous complaints have been received from Fiji citizens temporarily staying abroad that they are denied registration by the Fiji embassies.

END

Fiji embassies refuse to register voters Issue No: 937 13 July 2001

Fiji's foreign embassies are refusing to register voters who are temporarily staying abroad.

The Fiji Labour Party has received numerous complaints from Fiji citizens staying abroad that embassy officials are either not cooperate or refuse to register voters.

A statement from Labour's Dr. Ganesh Chand states:

"The Fiji Labour Party is disturbed to learn that Fiji's diplomatic staff posted in other countries are declining to register Fiji Citizens currently studying or working abroad."

"Numerous complaints have been received by the Fiji Labour Party where people trying to get registered have been told by Embassy staff that either they do not know anything about registration of voters or that they do not have funds to register voters there."

"Notorious in the group of embassies are those located in Canberra and Wellington."

"One complainant stated: 'I had repeatedly called to the Fiji Embassy and [Consulate] in Canberra and Melbourne respectively. I had received the following reply from the authorities. The Melbourne [Consulate] said that they did not know anything about that (elections) and that I [should] call the Embassy in Canberra. When I rang Canberra the person in charge told me that first they did not have funds to come over to get the voters registered. But when I rang earlier he told me that he would be informing the consulate in Melbourne. I have even given him my mobile number to call be when he has finalised the date the registration will be held in Melbourne. I have got tired of the process and from the news that I heard the Australian government has given about $1 million dollars towards the election preparation and the Fiji Embassy in Canberra says they don't have fund to get the voters registered in Melbourne. This is pathetic.'"

"Another complainant stated that when she called the Canberra office, she was asked what she wanted and when she informed the person that she wanted to get registered, she was "put on hold for over 5 minutes". She stated that she felt it was a "deliberate ploy to refuse to register Fiji Indians studying in Australia"."

"The Fiji Labour Party has informed the Elections Office of the problems over a week ago. But so far no response has been received from the Elections Office."

"If the authorities in Fiji have not briefed civil servants working in our Embassies abroad on the elections and the requirements of registration, then it is a sad reflection on both, the Qarase leadership as well as the civil servants in charge of such work."

"If, however, the problem lies with the staff manning the office abroad, then it is a serious matter of dereliction of duty. The FLP only hopes that the motives of the staff so involved is not racially oriented. Racism by civil servants must not be tolerated by the authorities."

"The FLP calls for an urgent response from the authorities on this major problem, as well as a public explanation of why such problems are occurring."

The regime has so far not responded to the complaints.

It is believed that this is a deliberate ploy being utilised by the Qarase regime to deny potential supporters of the People's Coalition their right to vote.

END


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