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Leader is not an office holder: Sayed-Khaiyum

FijiFirst founding member and former Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says a Party Leader is clearly not included in the definition of an office holder under Section 2 of the Political Parties Act.

Commenting on Supervisor of Elections, Ana Mataiciwa’s media statement on Friday where she referred FijiFirst Party to FICAC, Sayed-Khaiyum in a Facebook post said Mataiciwa cited Section 5(3) of the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Act 2013 (‘the Political Parties Act’) and stated that the ‘endorsement of the appointment’ of Voreqe Bainimarama as Leader of FijiFirst despite his conviction, which has been appealed, may be an offence.

“Under Section 5(3)(b) of the Political Parties Act, a person is disqualified from being an office holder of a political party if that person has in the 5 years preceding the date on which he or she applies to become an office holder of the political party, been convicted of an offence and sentenced to imprisonment for a period of not less than 6 months.”

“Under Section 2 of the Political Parties Act, an office holder means someone who is elected or appointed by the members of a political party, and includes the president, vice-president, treasurer, secretary and registered officer of a party. Leader, is clearly not included in this definition.”

He said additionally, the FijiFirst Constitution is not similar to the constitutions of other political parties.

“It provides for provisions on the specific mechanisms for the appointment of its office holders, in line with the interpretation for the term office holder under the Political Parties Act, and which provisions also do not include the position of the Leader.”

“Ana Mataiciwa’s insistence in her Media Statement that she has merely asked FICAC to look into the probable commission of electoral breaches as she claims has a statutory duty under Section 18 of the Electoral Act to promptly refer these matters to FICAC, does not make sense.”

“Section 18 of the Electoral Act titled cooperation with law enforcement agencies states that the Supervisor of Elections must immediately report a probable commission of an election related criminal offence including any criminal offence prescribed in the Electoral Act.”

Sayed-Khaiyum said Section 5(3) which Mataiciwa has cited in referring the  matter of FijiFirst’s leadership to FICAC is not under the Electoral Act, but under the Political Parties Act.

“Under the Political Parties Act, Ana Mataiciwa would refer any probable breaches to FICAC as the Registrar of Political Parties.”

“The Registrar of the Political Parties maintains the political parties register, which includes the details of all office holders of political parties. Again, these office holders, as defined under the Political Parties Act do not include, the Leader of a political party.”

“In any case, the referral of such a matter to FICAC would not make sense given that it cannot be categorised as an ‘election’ related offence. We are not in elections, are we?

Reginald Chandar
Reginald Chandar
Head of News & Sports | news@fijilive.com

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