Municipal elections are scheduled to take place in the first quarter of next year, Fiji’s Minister for Local Government and Housing, Maciu Katamotu announced today.
As part of the preparations leading up to the elections, public consultations will be conducted for close to three weeks across the 13 municipalities. These consultations planned between 5 pm and 7 pm, are set to begin on September 25 at the Civic Centre in Suva.
Among the topics open for public feedback are proposed changes to the Local Government Act, aimed at facilitating the elections. These changes include lowering the voting age from 21, as it stands in the current act, to 18. In addition, the eligibility criteria for candidates and the electoral system to be used will be discussed. These proposals have been put forward by a working group chaired by Permanent Secretary of Local Government, Seema Sharma, and include representatives from the Fijian Elections Office and the CEOs of municipal councils.
The feedback gathered during these consultations, along with the proposed budget for the elections, will be compiled to guide the working group in formulating their recommendations to the cabinet.
Cabinet endorsement for the municipal elections was granted in February of this year. The last time such elections were held was in 2008, and since early 2009, town and city operations have been managed by administrators.
A similar effort to reinstate municipal elections occurred during the previous administration’s tenure, but it was postponed due to the need for legislative revisions.