The Fijian Elections Office (FEO) hosted and funded a 3-day BRIDGE Introduction to Electoral Administration workshop in Suva, Fiji, 9th – 11th November 2016. The participants for the workshop included representatives of each of the registered political parties as well as six private individuals who submitted an Expression of Interest to participate in the workshop.
The workshop was a FEO response to the recommendation from the 2014 Fijian General Election Multinational Observer Group (MOG) that more comprehensive training be provided for party polling agents on their roles and responsibilities in the electoral process.
The BRIDGE facilitators for the workshop were Hamidan Bibi (consultant) and Ana Mataiciwa (FEO) from Fiji and Brian Latham (consultant) from Australia. The facilitators together brought a broad range of experience, knowledge and expertise to the workshop.
Mr Mohammed Saneem, Supervisor of Elections (SoE), FEO, welcomed participants, facilitators and other guests to the workshop, giving a brief overview of the reasons the FEO was placing importance on this training and encouraging participants to engage with the program over the following three days.
The New Zealand High Commissioner, Mr Mark Ramsden opened the workshop, commenting on the close relationship between the High Commission and the FEO, the recent support given to the FEO in the development of an election management system, and stated there was a need to recognize and acknowledge the FEO for implementing the MOG training recommendation through this workshop. He emphasised the importance that political party agents play in the conduct of elections and thanked participants for their attendance. He closed by extending his best wishes for the workshop.
The three-day program covered election ethics, principles, good governance, code of conduct for and functions of an EMB and electoral systems comparison – including a specific examination of the Fijian system.
After some initial, brief uncertainty about the conduct of the workshop, participants engaged in a most positive and participatory approach, each making a personal contribution to the activities. There were many questions raised and discussions undertaken, creating a learning experience for all involved.
Participants comments included
After the completion of the BRIDGE program the Director of the Fijian Human Rights Commission, MrAshwin Raj spoke about the connection between universal human rights and the electoral process.
The SoE, FEO, Mr Mohammed Saneem, then gave a presentation based on key milestones in the lead up to the 2018 Fijian General Election.
These presentations were followed by a Question and Answer forum.
The Fijian Electoral Commission Chairman, Mr Chen Bunn Young, closed the workshop, expressing his appreciation to the FEO for organising the workshop and to the facilitators for their co-ordination and execution of the program. He thanked the participants for their attendance and contributions and active participation. He also encouraged the political parties to maintain a constant contact with the FEO, including taking advantage of any future training offered as well as assisting the FEO in creating voter awareness and participation in the electoral process.
Participants each received a Certificate of Completion and Ms Hamidan Bibi is congratulated on gaining BRIDGE Accrediting Facilitator level.