Boundaries for election observers

BY Anish Chand

The Multinational Observer Group (MOG) in Fiji’s 14 November general elections will be required to seek a feedback from the Electoral Commission and the Fijian Elections Office before publishing any of its reports.

This is part of the requirement outlined in the terms of reference for the MOG issued by the Fijian Government.

Australia, India and Indonesia will jointly co-chair the MOG that will monitor the 2018 Fijian general election.

The terms of reference that was signed on 4th September 2018 outlines the framework and the scope within which the MOG will work.

“Before issuing the media statement and the observation report the MOG must comply and seek a response from the EC and FEO accordingly,” reads the term of reference.

After the General Election on 14th November 2018, the Multinational Observer Group will issue an interim media statement detailing its observation.

Following this, MOG will issue a detailed report to the Fijian Government, the Electoral Commission and the Supervisor of Elections.

“This report will reflect the views of all members of the delegation and will not be attributed to any individual country or organization,” says the TOR.

“Where appropriate the observation report will also offer recommendations for improving the integrity and effectiveness of future electoral and related processes,” the terms of reference reads.

The Fijian Government is according members of the Multinational Observer Group “freedom of movement throughout Fiji, without prior notification or permission”

The terms of reference states that observers are to exercise their roles impartiality and independently.

The Fijian Election Office has been granted powers under the terms of reference to ensure the election observers do their work within the confines of Fijian laws.

The FEO may revoke the accreditation of a member if he fails to adhere to lawful instructions, has shown bias in his work, has obstructed election officials and if he doesn’t adhere to the TOR.

The Multinational Observer Group can also “notify election officials of any actions or conduct which they believe to be serious infringements of the electoral process,”  says the TOR.

The MOG countries, Australia, India and Indonesia are to fund their own stay in Fiji and are permitted to open an office in Suva.