Fiji warns ‘selfish’ countries amid Paris Agreement climate rulebook deadlock

Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama … urging world leaders to summon the courage and political will to make the switch from dirty to clean energy. Image: Fiji Times

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Talks to draft the Paris Agreement rulebook remained deadlocked today on traditionally tough issues.

Emerging economies – China, India, Brazil and South Africa – stood their ground on financial aid and the division of rich and poor countries.

Others vented their frustration. The UN chief flew back to Poland with a message that failure would be “immoral” and “suicidal”, Fiji’s prime minister said it would be “craven, irresponsible and selfish”, and a coalition of countries born in the Paris talks in 2015 was resurrected, with a call to arms.

READ MORE: Make the ‘clean energy’ switch, urges Fiji’s Bainimarama

Businesses are outpacing national governments in rolling out zero emission vehicles across Europe, North America and New Zealand, says The Climate Group as another five leading companies have joined its corporate leadership initiative EV100 and pledged to electrify their fleets by 2030.

A push has emerged in Poland for countries to step up their climate pledges and Megan Darby of Climate Home News interviews one of the scientists whose work made the world realise it is on the brink.

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With new draft rules written by the Polish Cop24 presidency in hand by yesterday afternoon, and many issues still to be resolved, countries and groups came out swinging for their demands.

For the four Basic emerging economies – Brazil, South Africa, India and China – it’s all about differentiating their responsibilities from those of rich countries, and firming up the latter’s commitments to provide financial aid.

Commitments not fully met
“There’s a bit of concern that financial commitments, as agreed to in Paris, have not yet fully been met,” said South African tourism minister Tokozile Xasa.

“It’s quite clear, the evidence shows, that not only do we need reliability in the available finance to support of the initiatives, but that the amount allocated is hopelessly inadequate.”

On the question of how the rulebook applies to countries, the group stressed that the Paris Agreement gives developing countries more leniency as they build up abilities to, for instance, track and report emissions.

“There has to be some degree of flexible reassertion of the differentiated approach … and the allowance made for developing countries,” Xasa said.

Is also another man’s Paris Agreement. The Basic group argued that inserting “equal treatment” of developed and developing countries into the rulebook would amount to a “backslide” on the accord.

EU Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete countered that the Paris Agreement called for a more flexible differentiation than the developed/developing line of the 1990s.

“We fully respect what we agreed in Paris, but Paris also points out … that we have to have an enhanced transparency system with built-in flexibilities,” he said.

Countries that need flexibility should get it, while their capabilities are built up, he added.

The Green Climate Fund has extended its search for a new executive director to 3 January. Climate Home News understands big hitters like Nigerian former finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and UN desertification chief Monique Barbut have been encouraged to apply, but many potential candidates are deterred by the Songdo location.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Pacific ‘smart’ thinking grows creative tension between policy and research

ANALYSIS: By Professor Derrick Armstrong

A traditional view of the tension between research and policy suggests that researchers are poor at communicating their research findings to policy-makers in clear and unambiguous ways.

I am arguing that this is an outdated view of the relationship between research and policy. Science, including social science, and policy come together in many interesting and creative ways.

This does not mean that tensions between the two are dissolved but the conversation between research and policy centre as much on ideological and pragmatic issues as it does upon the strength of the scientific evidence itself.

READ MORE: The DevNet 2018 conference

Researchers are increasingly “smart” in the ways that they seek to influence public debate while policy-makers genuinely value the insights that research can provide in supporting political and policy agendas that goes beyond simply legitimating pre-existing policy choices.

For example, in climate change debates science cannot be seen simply as an arbiter of “truth” that informs policy and political decision-making. Science also plays an advocacy role in alliance with some social interests against others.

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Likewise, policy can draw on science but it can also reject the evidence of science where scientific evidence is weighed against the interests of other powerful voices in the policy-process.

Oceans research and policy provides a good example of this more sophisticated relationship between science and policy and suggests some of the significant disconnects and tensions that challenge the relationship as well as how creative tensions between the two operate in practice. Three areas of disconnect can be identified.

Practical disconnection
The first of these is practical disconnection of regulation with regard to the Oceans. An integrated legal framework for the ocean might be considered critical for progress towards meeting the objectives of SDG 14 (Life under the Sea) but complexity and fragmentation present many challenges which are both sectorial and geographical.

National laws lack coordination across different ocean-related productive sectors, conservation, and areas of human wellbeing. In addition, these laws are disconnected from the regulation of land-based activities that negatively impact upon the ocean – agriculture, industrial production and waste management (including ocean plastic).

“These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.” Image: David Robie/PMC

These disconnections are compounded by limited understanding of the role of international human rights and economic law, as well as the norms of indigenous peoples, development partners and private companies.

Disconnected science is itself a problem in this area. Ocean science is still weak in most countries due to limited holistic approaches for understanding cumulative impacts of various threats to ocean health such as climate change, pollution, coastal erosion and overfishing.

Equally, scientific understanding of the effectiveness of conservation and management responses is poor, so that the productivity limits and recovery time of ecosystems cannot be easily predicted.

Even when science is making progress, effective science-policy interfaces are often poorly articulated at all levels. As a result, there are significant barriers to effectively measuring progress in reaching SDG14.

Oceans research policies rare
National oceans research policies to support sustainable development are rare. This is compounded by limited understanding of the role of different knowledge systems, notably the traditional knowledge of indigenous people.

Third, there is a disconnected dialogue. Key stakeholders, most notably the communities most dependent on ocean health, are not sufficiently involved in developing and implementing ocean management; yet, they are most disproportionately affected by their negative consequences.

More positively, there are some good examples of effective science-policy diplomacy collaborations and networks. For example, in the Pacific my own university (University of the South Pacific) has worked very effectively to support Pacific island countries, especially Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, to successfully lead arguments at the International Maritime Organisation for international commitments to reduced carbon emission targets for shipping.

Technical, scientific support has been critical to support the advocacy of Pacific leaders and their ability to mobilise wider political support.

Building the capacity to achieve such outcomes within the regions of the world that confront these problems most sharply is a significant challenge. Aid policy can play an Important role in this respect – for example, by supporting capacity building through investment in local institutions such as universities rather than funnelling aid money back into donor countries through consultancies.

The scientific dominance of the global north is every bit as disempowering and threatening as post-colonial political domination.

For countries in the developing world, capacity building in research is critical to supporting their own countries. Another good example of this is found in the High Ambition Pacific coalition led by the Marshall Islands which secured significant support from European countries and elsewhere, in their campaign for a 1.5 degrees emissions target at the COP21 meeting in Paris in 2015.

Science-policy-advocacy alliance
This coalition was a good example of a science-policy-advocacy alliance which did not come from the global north.

Scientific as well as policy collaborations between the global south and the global north are certainly possible but it also the case that scientific research and intervention in the countries of the south from the outside can very easily reinforce the political domination that politicians and policy-makers from the south so often experience in international forums and through the aid policies bestowed upon them from outside.

The aggressive assertion of the privileges of Western science to do research in developing countries at the expense of building local capacity demonstrates another side of this post-colonial experience. It is impossible to credibly talk of “giving voice to the ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘vulnerable’” where the research practices of outside researchers and their institutions cripple the ability of local researchers to speak.

Yet, researchers in the Pacific are more effectively operating at the cutting-edge of the science-policy interface than many outside the region may understand or recognise.

In our own case at USP, genuine collaboration across the boundaries of south and north have been possible but just as our leaders and our communities have had to fight against patronising notions of “vulnerability” our scientific need is to build our own capacity to effectively engage with the priorities of our own region and its people. We aim to build a scientific and research capacity that is neither dominated by or exploited from outside.

So, in summary, the tensions that have traditionally been used to characterise the science-policy interface greatly oversimplify the reality. They oversimplify it at an abstract level by whether by characterising science as disinterested or by characterising the aim of policy-makers to rational and evidence-based.

They also oversimplify the relationships within and between scientific communities, ignoring the social interests and power structures that serve the continuation, whether intentionally or not, of post-colonial domination, restricting opportunities to build scientific capacity which enables the achievement of locally determined priorities.

Professor Derrick Armstrong is deputy vice-chancellor (research, innovation and international) at the Suva-based University of the South Pacific. This was a presentation made at the concluding “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 “Disruption and Renewal” conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, last week.

Professor Derrick Armstrong speaking with other members of the final “creative tension” panel at the DevNet 2018 development studies conference. Image: David Robie/PMC

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Labour rally in Jakarta, Fiji march highlight global human rights issues

How UN agencies strive to put human rights at the centre of their work. Video: UN

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Hundreds of workers from the Confederation of United Indonesian Workers (KPBI) held a protest march at the weekend in the capital of Jakarta and Fiji’s Coalition on Human Rights staged a march today to commemorate World Human Rights Day.

In Jakarta, the Indonesian workers marched from the Farmers Monument in Central Jakarta to the nearby State Palace on Saturday, reports CNN Indonesia.

During the action, the workers highlighted the problems of corruption and the failure to resolve human rights violations.

READ MORE: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70

“This action is a reflection of the regime that is in power, Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] has failed, particularly in cases of corruption and human rights violations in Indonesia”, said KPBI secretary-general Damar Panca.

The Jakarta rally for human rights at the weekend. Image: Rayhand Purnama Karim/CNNI

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Panca said that during Widodo’s administration corruption had become more widespread as had human rights violations. Trade unions had also suffered human rights violations when holding protests.

Panca said that not long ago during a peaceful demonstration, workers were assaulted and had tear gas fired at them by security forces.

“Not just that, 26 labour activists have been indicted. So we are articulating this now because it is the right moment – namely in the lead up to Anti-Corruption Day (December 9) and Human Rights Day (December 10),” he said.

Social welfare demands
In addition to highlighting human rights violations, they also demanded that the government take responsibility for providing social welfare for all Indonesians and rejected low wages, particularly in labour intensive industries, low rural incomes and contract labour and outsourcing.

Panca said that Saturday’s action was also articulating several other problems such as inequality in employment, the criminalisation of activists and the need for free education.

The KPBI is an alliance of cross-sector labour federations. Saturday’s action was joined by the Indonesian Pulp and Paper Trade Union Federation (FSP2KI), the Cross-Factory Labour Federation (FBLP), the Populist Trade Union Federation (SERBUK), the Indonesian Harbour Transportation Labour Federation (FBTPI), the Indonesian Workers Federation of Struggle (FPBI), the Industrial Employees Trade Union Federation (FSPI), the Solidarity Alliance for Labour Struggle (GSPB) and the Greater Jakarta Railway Workers Trade Union (SPKAJ)

“This action is not just in Jakarta, similar actions with the same demands are also being organised by KBPI members in North Sumatra. In Jakarta they have come from across Jabodetabek [Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang and Bekasi, Greater Jakarta],” he said.

According to CNN Indonesia’s observations, the hundreds of workers wearing red and carrying protest gear continued to articulate their demands from two command vehicles near the State Palace, directly in front of the West Monas intersection.

They also sang songs of struggle and followed the directions of speakers shouting labour demands. The protest was closely watched over by scores of police officers.

Fiji rally for rights
In Suva, Fiji, the NGO Coalition on Human Rights organised a march for today to commemorate World Human Rights Day.

The march will begin at 10am from the Flea Market ending in a rally at Sukuna Park and is the culmination of 16 days of activism against gender-based violence from November 25 to December 10.

World Human Rights Day is celebrated annually on December 10 to mark the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.

This year is a significant milestone for the UDHR as it marks its 70th Anniversary.

Human Rights Day is a day to celebrate and advocate for the protection of Human Rights globally. Since its launch in 1997, the NGOCHR now includes members such as the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement, Citizen’s Constitutional Forum, FemLINK Pacific, Ecumenical Centre for Research and Advocacy, Drodrolagi Movement, Social Empowerment and Education Program and observers, Pacific Network on Globalisation, Haus of Khameleon and Diverse Voices and Action for Equality.

The Indonesian report was translated by James Balowski of Indoleft News. The original title of the article was “Ratusan Buruh Berunjuk Rasa di Istana, Soroti Pelanggaran HAM”.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji women have confidence that their gender in politics will hear their voices

SODELPA’s Lynda Tabuya … “breath of fresh air” in Fiji politics. Image: Wikimedia Commons

By Koroi Tadulala in Suva

The role of women in every segment of society is vital and this is slowly been reflected through more women contesting political spaces in Fiji.

This year recorded the highest number of women contesting the country’s general election compared to previous elections – and also the highest number elected.

The new 51-seat Parliament includes 10 women, five in government and five in the opposition.

READ MORE: 2018 Fiji elections – the ‘fake news’ catchphrase of this ballot but beware

The highest polling woman, SODELPA’s Lynda Tabuya – a talented lawyer and former beauty queen described by media as a “breath of fresh air”, being the fifth highest of the successful MPs.

Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni says this the success of women is “wonderful news” and she is expected to continue as Speaker.

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A total of 56 women from all 6 political parties contested this year hoping to represent women and their issues in political debate.

Amelia Qalituraga, 40, of Banaras Lautoka, is delighted that more women stood for election despite politics being a male-dominated field in this country.

Grassroots support
While casting her vote last Wednesday, she expressed hope that women in Parliament would be able to help out women at grassroots level, especially over the minimum wage rate.

“Working as a cleaner at the rate of $2.70 an hour hasn’t been any easy for me and my family,” she says.

“Na veika ga keimami kerea jiko vei ira na marama era na curu I Palimedi me ra rogoci keimami kei na neimami gagadre,” she added. (The only thing we want from women representatives is to listen to our needs and voices.)

With the rise in sexual assault and rape cases victimising women, Qalituraga hopes that women in Parliament will be able to make a change.

“Na levu ni sexual assault kei na rape sa yaco tu ni kua, au sa vavinavinaka saraga ni na rawa ni rogoci na neimami gagadre.” (With the rise in sexual assault and rape cases against women, I believe that women in political spaces will be able to listen to our concerns now).

Krishneel Vikash Chand, a 21-year-old student at the University of Fiji, says “only a woman will be able to understand the needs of other women and their issues”.

“I think it’s good to have more women in politics because it gives women more empowerment,” he adds.

Better represented
Chand says the idea of women being part of the decision making process would allow women to be better represented and ensure their voices are heard.

Despite the positive response from most people about women competing in political spaces,  some prefer men to address their issues rather than women.

Madhuri Nair … supports idea of empowerment for women but prefers men to address women’s issues. Image: Wansolwara

Madhuri Nair, of Field 40, Lautoka, likes the idea of women empowerment but prefers men to address women’s issues.

“I think it’s good that more women are participating in political spaces, however, I want men to solve women’s issues because sometimes women don’t think nicely.”

Despite the mixed responses from people around Lautoka, it is clear women at the grassroots level want their voices heard and issues to be addressed.

  • Premila Kumar, Selai Adimaitoga, Veena Bhatnagar, Mereseini Vuniwaqa and Rosy Akbar are included in the 27-member FijiFirst-led government while Social Democratic Liberal Party members Lynda Tabuya, Ro Teimumu Kepa, Salote Radrodro, Adi Litia Qionibaravi and National Federation Party member Lenora Qereqeretabua are included in the 24-member opposition.

Koroi Tadulala is a final-year student journalist at the University of the South Pacific. This article is republished under the content sharing arrangement between USP’s Wansolwara student journalism newspaper and AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

2018 Fiji elections – the ‘fake news’ catchphrase of this poll but beware

By Sri Krishnamurthi

“Fake News” was the catch phrase of the 2018 Fiji Elections – the second democratic elections since Commodore, now Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, carried out Fiji’s fourth coup in 2006.

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama … reelected with easily the strongest personal vote in the Fiji general election but his FijiFirst party has lost ground since 2014. Image: SK/PMC

That FijiFirst with 227,241 (50.02 percent) votes won the elections with just over half of 458,532 votes cast, giving it 27 seats, is testimony to how nervous it was going into the elections.

The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) won 181,072 votes (39.85%), close to 40 percent of the vote and gets 21 seats in parliament, doing better than it did in 2014, while the National Federation Party completes the makeup with 33,515 votes (7.38 percent) and three seats in the 51-seat Parliament.

“SODELPA – It’s strong indigenous propaganda supported by some deliberate misinformation contributed to a much improved performance, compared with 2014,” said the pro-government newspaper Fiji Sun today in its analysis of the elections.

This was a quaint way of accusing SODELPA of indulging in fake news by the government’s self-confessed propaganda organ.

FijiFirst … triumphs again in a general election, but only just. Image: SK/PMC

In his statement on winning the elections yesterday, published in the Fiji Sun, Bainimarama took the unusual step of accusing the other national daily newspaper, The Fiji Times, of colluding with the opposition in a thinly veiled attack on SODELPA.

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“These same disruptive politicians of old, aided and abetted by The Fiji Times did not care to tell you the truth – the truth that iTaukei (Native) land is not only safe like never before under our Constitution but as total land holding has grown under FijiFirst,” he said in a statement.

‘Dishonest politicians’
“In fact it was only under the leadership of these same dishonest politicians that iTaukei land was actually and permanently alienated.

“Their lies and deception knew no boundaries, as individuals, whole communities and religious sentiments were slandered and belittled in an atmosphere of political deceit. They were willing to create economic chaos and undermine our economic future in their greed to win government,” Bainimarama said in his statement from New Zealand, where he was attending his brother Sevenaia’s funeral.

The 48-hour media blackout period – extended until Saturday, November 17, to allow for 22 polling venues to be opened for 7,458 people who were affected by floods – made it easy for social media trolls to make mischief.

At a press conference during the election, Ashwin Raj, the CEO of the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA), admitted to being caught out by the ferocity of fake news and the social media.

In an interview with ABC’s Pacific Beat programme. Pacific Freedom Forum (PFF) co-chair Bernadette Carreon put her finger on the problem.

She said the vacuum left by the media blackout had led to fake news and misinformation being shared.

“The media is not allowed to publish any information regarding the election and so there have been reports of some fake websites coming up during the blackout and we call it fake news because it could potentially influence the voting,” she said.

Fact checking
“Media or the readers cannot fact check because the media is not allowed to air any news or information about the election process.”

That fake news dominated the media at the Fiji Elections Office (FEO) for more than two days was hardly surprising – as nothing could be reported on the campaign or the candidates.

FijiFirst’s financial statement for the nine months until 30 September 2018. Image: SK/Twitter

It has been reported on Twitter that FijiFirst, from the financial declarations last month, spent $1.9 million on advertising and $80,000 on social media as of 30 September 2018. (See image)

However, the media blackout and fake news did not have any influence on the Monday before the elections when SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka faced the High Court for the appeal by the Fiji Independent Commission Against Corruption (FICAC) against charges of corruption which were initially dismissed.

The appeal was subsequently dismissed as well to loud cheers from his supporters.
The media scrum was a sight to behold as Rabuka emerged from courtroom victorious accompanied by his protégé Lynda Tabuya.

With more than 2000 people singing Fijian songs in harmony he was escorted down the steps of Parliament which backs onto the court house.

It appeared to be in defiance of the government which have for so long subdued the Fijian people and their natural exuberance.

Sigh of relief
It clearly signalled the portent of what was to come two days later in the elections, and one shudders to think of what could have happened that day had he lost the court case.

But, for now a collective sigh of relief in Fiji, relief that stability continues with murmurings of corruption, relief that a strong opposition is in place, and 10 women have made to Parliament making up 20 percent of the seats, but it bodes for uncertainty in the 2022 elections.

As Professor Jon Fraenkel from Victoria University of Wellington, a visitor and speaker at the University of the South Pacific, told the Australian Associated Press (AAP) on November 14.

“Many indigenous voters are wary of the endless polarisation and mind games of FijiFirst, and there is also considerable anti-Muslim sentiment targeted at the Attorney-General and his many appointees.”

A third term in government is difficult for any party and the warnings are already been written on the wall for FijiFirst – the people have spoken and will again.

Sri Krishnamurthi is a journalist and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at Auckland University of Technology. He was attached to the University of the South Pacific’s Journalism Programme, filing for USP’s Wansolwara News and the AUT Pacific Media Centre’s Asia Pacific Report.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

‘The people have spoken’ – Fiji Times comments on a split election

The Fiji Times editorial … “The challenge for individual voters is to cast aside differences, and unite for a common goal, to move our nation forward.” Image: PMC screenshot

EDITORIAL COMMENT: By Fred Wesley, editor-in-chief of The Fiji Times

Yesterday marked the end of the 2018 Fiji General Election.

It marked the end of a period that culminated in two weeks of intense campaigning.

In the heated battles, parties clung onto strategies they calculated would woo the important component in the election process — the voters.

Today’s Fiji Times front page. Image: FT/PMC

However that panned out, campaigning reached unprecedented levels of attacks, some personal at times.

The attacks inched their way onto the various social media platforms, raising the profile of this particular election.

In the end though, before the writ for election was handed over by the chairperson of the Fijian Electoral Commission, Suresh Chandra, to the President of our nation, Jioji Konrote yesterday, the masses had spoken.

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The FijiFirst party got 227,241 votes when the final results were tallied. Their highest votes were from the Western Division, accounting for 91,902 of their total count.

The Voreqe Bainimarama led-party received 65,901 votes from the Central Division, 34,291 votes from the Eastern Division and 31,073 votes from the Northern Division.

The party received 4074 votes through postal ballots.

The Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) polled the second highest votes in this year’s polls, making up 39.85 percent of the total votes cast with 181,072.

Their highest votes were from the Central Division where they collected 67,255 votes.

The Sitiveni Rabuka led-party gathered 43,813 votes from the Western Division, 35, 013 votes from the Eastern Division and 30,919 votes from the Northern Division. SODELPA received 4072 votes through postal voting.

The National Federation Party recorded 33,515 votes when the final results were released yesterday.

Out of this, 12,025 were from the Western Division, 10,941 from the Central Division, 5457 from the Eastern Division and 4336 from the Northern Division.

The Biman Prasad led-party received 756 votes from postal voting.

The results meant FFP came off with 27 seats of the 51-member Parliament, while SODELPA came off with 21 and NFP with three to make up the 24-member Opposition.

It was good to note that the new Parliament includes 10 women, five in government and five in the opposition. Congratulations certainly are in order for Mr Bainimarama and his party.

He has the huge task of bringing together a nation that has been split in this election.

His challenge would be to understand the needs of the 227,094 voters who did not vote for his party. For now, all battles must be put on the backburner for the good of the nation.

The challenge for individual voters is to cast aside differences, and unite for a common goal, to move our nation forward.

The masses have spoken.

They have given Mr Bainimarama and FijiFirst the mandate to govern for the next four years.

We must embrace that fact.

That is the beauty of democracy.

Republished from The Fiji Times, 19 November 2018.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

FijiFirst wins Fiji election after tightly contested race

FijiFirst leader Voreqe Bainimarama with supporters during a FijiFirst family fun day in Savusavu before the 2018 general election. Image: FijiFirst FB page

By Wansolwara Staff

It’s official. FijiFirst has won the 2018 general election in Fiji, raking in 227,241 votes (50.02 percent) from 2173 stations counted and securing a second four-year term in office.

FijiFirst dominated the polls in the later counting ahead of the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) in an earlier tight contest. SODELPA finished in second place with 181,072 votes (39.85 percent).

The National Federation Party (NFP) finished in third place with 33,515 (7.38 percent) followed by Unity Fiji with 6,896, Humanity Opportunity Prosperity Equality with 2,811 votes and Fiji Labour Party (FLP) with 2,800 votes.

EARLIER REPORT: FijiFirst wins second four-year term

Caretaker Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, FijiFirst leader, finished off on a strong footing, raking in 167,732 votes in the results by candidate tally.

SODELPA’s Sitiveni Rabuka came in second with 77,040 votes followed by Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum with 17,271 votes.

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National Federation Party leader Biman Prasad finished off with 12,137 votes, followed by the leading woman candidate Lynda Tabuya with 8,795 votes.

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem announced the results at the National Results Centre this afternoon after the final results were released on the FEO elections app.

Official results handover
The official elections results were then handed over to Electoral Commission Chairman Suresh Chandra.

“After receiving the results of the 2018 general election, the Electoral Commission will now retire and calculate the seat allocation for the 51 seats for the next term of Parliament,” Chandra said.

Thereafter the announcement of the allocation of Parliament seats will be made followed by the return of the Writ of Election to President Jioji Konrote this afternoon.

It is understood that FijiFirst will probably take 27 seats in Parliament while SODELPA could settle for 21 seats and NFP with 3 seats. This, however, will be confirmed by the Electoral Commission after its deliberations.

This article is republished under the content sharing arrangement between USP’s Wansolwara student journalism newspaper and AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

The final results in the Fiji general election announced by the Fiji Elections Office (FEO) in Suva today. Source: FEO

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

FijiFirst wins second four-year term in office in Fiji general election

Diplomats, officials and party representatives today at the National Results Centre in Suva awaiting the final declaration of the Fiji general election. Image: Nanise Volau/ Wansolwara

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s FijiFirst party has triumphed in the general election and will govern for a second four-year term after winning most votes

FFP polled 227,241 votes – just over half the total votes – followed by the Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA) in second place with 181,072 votes (39.85 percent) while the National Federation Party (NFP) came third with 33,515 votes (7.38 percent).

SODELPA and NFP will again form the opposition for another four years.

Other parties gained less than the 5 percent threshold needed to gain seats in the 51-seat Parliament.

Wansolwara News reported earlier that it was understood that after the official handover of results from the Fiji Elections Office, the Electoral Commission would announce the allocation of seats in Parliament before the Writ of Election would be presented to President Jioji Konrote later today.

The final results in the Fiji general election announced by the Fiji Elections Office (FEO) in Suva today. Source: FEO/Wansolwara

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Fiji’s elections chief Saneem slams 4 political parties – counting on hold

The Supervisor of Elections tells four parties “not to play around with elections” and “be honest”. Image: Wansolwara

By Wansolwara Staff

Fiji’s Supervisor of Elections has hit out at four political parties for making claims that the tabulation process for the provisional results of the 2018 General Election was “not transparent”.

Without mincing his words at a press briefing tonight, Mohammed Saneem urged leaders of the political parties – Social Democratic Liberal Party (SODELPA), National Federation Party (NFP), Unity Fiji and Fiji Labour Party (FLP) – “not to play around with elections” and “be honest”.

Claims of a breach in the Protocol of Results process surfaced after a joint statement was sent to the Electoral Commission on Thursday alleging that political party agents and candidates were not shown documents from which the provisional results were posted on the national results tally during the tabulation process.

There were further claims from political parties that incorrect data was also recorded on the FEO App, particularly for votes recorded at the Namosi Village community hall for some of their party candidates.

Responding to these issues, Saneem presented original copies of votes recorded at that particular voting venue and openly compared those with the election records presented by party agents at that polling venue.

There were notable differences in the data collected.

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“The parties claim that No. 571 on their record is zero; the Protocol of Results says 571 has one vote, the pink slip for 571 has one and the FEO App has one. For 591 (Biman Prasad), according to the parties, he has five votes.

According to the original, he has four votes, the pink slip has four votes and the FEO App has four votes.

For 688 (Bainimarama), their records say 36, the original pink slip says 96 and the FEO App has 96,” he explained to the media and representatives from the international multinational observer group.

“The Namosi Village community hall is a pre-poll station and that means counting for this station was actually done at the count centre (in Suva). We have evidence, properly justified and signed by agents and staff, nothing is being hidden.

Party records ‘incorrect’
“The records of those parties are extremely incorrect. They were highly inaccurate results projected here for the sake of publicity and this is why the FEO is urging all members of the public to rely on the FEO information as the most accurate for this general election.

“We will pause and provide the political parties that have got agents present here with the records from the results management system as well as the protocols of results and we will reconcile to make sure that everybody in the results centre has the same amount of data including the data on the app.

“I hope this settles the entire question about attempts to create doubt about the results.”

Saneem further clarified that the Fijian Elections Office had three verification processes before data is accepted into results software or results management system.

This article is republished under the content sharing arrangement between USP’s Wansolwara student journalism newspaper and AUT’s Pacific Media Centre.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media

Crosbie Walsh: Fiji elections still a cliffhanger, FijiFirst hanging on

Fiji general election … a disappointing low voter turnout but the atrocious weather is an insufficient reason. Image: Wansolwara

ANALYSIS: By Dr Crosbie Walsh

With the final results from 1715 (79 percent) of the 2173 polling stations now counted, who will form the next Fiji government is still too close to call, although the trend since earlier announcements — and the preliminary results announced on Thursday —  indicate a narrow win for FijiFirst.

As of 1pm today, FijiFirst had 49.93 percent of the vote, SODELPA 39.96 percent and National Federation Party (NFP) 7.36 percent. The other parties had a combined total of 2.74 percent, well below the 5 percent threshold to win a seat.

What has been most disappointing is the low voter turnout. The atrocious weather did not help but in itself is an insufficient reason.

READ MORE: Counting still going on with final result due Sunday

There are likely to be a mix of reasons but their relative importance will remain unknown. They could perhaps have chosen not to vote because they are happy with the status quo under FijiFirst.

They could have expected FijiFirst to win, so why bother? They could have been overwhelmed and confused by the many pressures to vote from FijiFirst and the pressures and rumours from the Opposition.

-Partners-

Or they could have thought the election result would not improve their lives whatever the outcome.

So what can we deduce from the results so far?

‘Work in progress’
Bainimarama’s FijiFirst seems likely to win 27 seats, SODELPA 20 and NFP 4 seats in the 51-seat chamber.

The aim of the 2013 constitution in abolishing race-based elections which favoured the chiefly Taukei appears to be a work “still in progress”. SODELPA is essentially a Taukei party with 43 of its 51 candidates Taukei, 4 Indo-Fijians and 4 Others.

NFP, a traditional Indo-Fijian party, had made serious efforts to be more multiracial. Nineteen of its 51 candidates are Taukei, 29 Indo-Fijians and 3 Others.

FijiFirst is the most balanced party with 26 Taukei, 23 Indo-Fijian and 2 Others. It even has two chiefs! But no paramount chiefs.

Two heads of Confederacies, Ro Teimumu Kepa (Burebasaga) and Naiqama Lalabalavu (Tovata), are SODELPA candidates. The Kubuna headship is at present vacant.

A Rotuman, Pasepa Lagi, out-polled Bainimarama and all other candidates in Rotuma.

A casual examination of voting by the type and location of polling station shows race and parochial interests to still be very evident.

Village voting
People voting in Taukei villages generally voted SODELPA, no doubt due to the influence of village heads (turaga ni koro). This pattern did not seem to be influenced by whether or not the FijiFirst government had spent money on local development.

So much for the social media and opposition claims that FijiFirst was buying votes. Those in (mainly Indo-Fijian) settlements voted FijiFirst or NFP.

In urban areas, voting also seemed to be greatly influenced by race, and to a lesser extent by economic wellbeing.

Three types of polling stations deserve special mention. Those located in military areas voted overwhelmingly for FijiFirst (which reduces the prospect of another coup); police areas were about equally divided between FijiFirst and SODELPA, and Corrections were predominantly SODELPA.

One further initial observation is the different distribution of candidate preferences.  Bainimarama was the first choice  with 36.8 percent for FijiFirst votes.

SODELPA’s Rabuka only accounted for 17 percent with other candidates scoring higher than with FijiFirst.

Interestingly, Ro Teimumu Kepa only won 1.2 percent of SODELPA votes.  This suggests more parochially-orientated voting for  SODELPA and perhaps what could be called more nationally-orientated voting with FijiFirst.

But individual SODELPA candidates may have been better known in particular locations.

The geography of how people voted in 2014 and 2018  by polling station would make a very good topic for a master’s thesis. There are certainly enough hypotheses to test.

Retired University of the South Pacific development studies professor Crosbie Walsh is a New Zealand-based academic. His articles are published by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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MIL OSI – Source: Evening Report Arts and Media