Fiji’s Electoral Commission (EC) Chairperson Barbara Malimali highlighted the distinction between the EC and the Fijian Elections Office (FEO), stating that they are two separate and independent bodies.
The FEO, she says, manages the technical aspects of elections, while the EC is responsible for upholding the integrity of the electoral processes in Fiji.
“For us, letting people know that we’re two independent bodies and the fact that they need to trust us and trust the system is pivotal. So, it’s about rebuilding the trust of the Fijian people in the EC,” Malimali said.
She also highlighted the need for greater public awareness of the roles and functions of the EC and the FEO, and recognise that their efforts are not limited to the period just before elections. She noted that there is an ongoing election cycle, with both bodies working consistently and continuously to provide the best electoral system possible within the available resources.
Malimali also provided an update on the work undertaken since assuming office in July this year, stating, “For the last couple of months, we’ve been trying to understand our role and where we fit in. We’ve developed a work plan and have already made progress on some of the action items. We have set targets and action items that need to be addressed as we finalise our plan. This includes making recommendations for amendments to electoral laws, which we hope to achieve by the end of this year.”
The EC Chairperson also hopes that by next year more people will know and understand the importance of voting and working together as a society in promoting democracy.
“I’m hoping that the people of Fiji realise that we are midway into our election cycle and that they understand the importance of having elections, the importance of voting, and the importance of them exercising their right to vote. With that right, comes also the responsibility of voting. That’s what I’m hoping, and that people understand the election cycle.
“Working with our stakeholders is also important. We work with the relevant government ministries, like the Ministry for Local Government, the Attorney General’s Office, and the Ministry of Women, to get us to where we need to go. And of course, our Civil Society Organisations. We need to work with our Civil Society Organisations, religious bodies, and so forth. We need our people to know and understand that we do more than just come out every four years.”