The Leader of Opposition Frank Bainimarama has written to Fiji’s President, His Excellency Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, on the conduct of certain members of the Constitutional Offices Commission (COC), last month.
In a letter dated 19 January 2023 to the President, Bainimarama said that last month, the COC Secretariat had asked the Supervisor of Elections (SOE), Mohammed Saneem to respond to a complaint of 20 August 2021 lodged by certain Political Parties.
Bainimarama said the SOE’s response was received by the COC on the 13 January 2023 and a meeting was convened on 18 January 2023 to consider his response, among other matters.
“In his response to the COC, the SOE had denied the allegations of misbehaviour and had highlighted that certain members of the COC were conflicted in dealing with the complaint against Saneem,” Bainimarama said.
He said the COC is a bipartisan constitutional body and decisions are arrived at the majority vote in accordance with Section 138(3) of the Constitution.
The former Prime Minister said all members of the COC and indeed members of other constitutional bodies must adhere to principles of honesty, justice, good faith, good governance, natural justice, fairness and transparency in their conduct, including their deliberations and decision-making.
Bainimarama added in order to conduct its affairs in a principled and ethical manner, members of the COC who have a conflict of interest in respect of a complaint or in respect of the relevant constitutional officeholder, ought to recuse themselves and not participate in any discussions or vote relating to the complaint or the officeholder.
The Leader of Opposition also highlighted that the SOE had submitted, in his response, indicating that the complaint lacked merit and did not warrant a referral to the tribunal or his suspension.
“The SOE had invited the COC to consider the decision of the High Court and the interpretation of Section 137 of the Constitution provided by the Honourable Chief Justice and to accordingly dismiss the complaint.”
“Given all of the above and despite the objections raised by my nominee to the COC Roko Tupou Draunidalo and I, the Prime Minister and his two nominees continued to participate in discussions relating to this complaint.”
Bainimarama went on to say that these members also proceeded to vote in relation to the SOE’s suspension pending the formation of a Tribunal pursuant to Section 137 (3) and 137(4) of the Constitution.
FijiLive is trying to get in touch with the Prime Minister and Chairperson of the Constitutional Offices Commission, Sitiveni Rabuka on the allegations put forth by the Leader of Opposition.