Fiji Free And Fair Elections
As the nation prepares to vote in the upcoming general elections, the NGO Coalition on Human Rights (NGOCHR) implores all stakeholders as well as the people of Fiji engage in a peaceful transition of power upon the election of the next government. The NGOCHR calls for free and fair elections to reflect the will of the Fijian people.
Voting is a fundamental human right, and one of the few opportunities we have to ensure we weigh in and express our preferences on who we choose to govern us and in the way we want to be governed. Make our voices be heard, loud and clear.
The NGOCHR reaffirms that a free and fair election is an opportunity for Fiji citizens to not only exercise their right to vote but to exercise other civil liberties such as freedoms of speech, association and assembly and deep democracy. Our upcoming elections has already fostered greater political participation, where we see an increase in political parties since the 2018 elections with 9 parties and 2 independent candidates registered.
With increased representation in Fiji’s political spectrum, there is greater confidence in our democracy. Furthermore, since the announcement of the 2022 elections, political debate and public dialogue has also increased and should be encouraged but without personal attacks and maligning.
Fijians should be able to make a free decision when casting their vote. A country cannot be truly democratic until its citizens have the opportunity to choose their representatives through elections that are robustly conducted, free and fair. Elections will also allow for peaceful, democratic political transitions. This is vital in building longevity for our fragile parliamentary democracy.
As the results come in from election night, it is equally important that the power bestowed by the will of the people, is totally respected and that there is a peaceful transition of power to the legitimate and legal government of the new Parliament. Fiji’s history is littered with dissatisfaction and coups and the upcoming general election is an opportunity for us to take our place in the region as a beacon of hope, freedom, and democratic values.
Duty bearers must ensure the rule of law is maintained and that the will of the people is respected. It should also ensure that human rights violations do not occur anywhere in Fiji, and that principles of democracy, gender justice and human rights are protected by all means.
NGOs and CSOs must also be allowed to carry on their work in the usual manner without any undue interference by anyone.
NGOCHR also calls on the State to ensure that all can freely participate including women as representatives of half of our population and all at risk, vulnerable and marginalised groups such as youth, members of the LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, those in informal settlements, rural and maritime areas and others are protected and that their access to services are not impeded in any way.
NGOCHR notes efforts by the Fiji Elections Office in dissemination of information for voters from all backgrounds and promoting awareness for the 2022 elections.
It is now time for all Fijians to act on the fundamental civic right to vote as work for deep democracy and human rights for all.