Back in July 2015, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which happened to be the FEO’s first since its creation in early 2014. The MoU was deemed necessary to form a basis for cooperation between the two institutions to enhance the evolvement of electoral practices in Fiji.
Three years later (2018), upon expiry of that MoU, both institutions mutually agreed to renew the cooperation towards further strengthening electoral processes in Fiji.
Ms Leena Rikkilä Tamang, Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific representing International IDEA, expressed, “I am particularly glad that we have decided to renew our Memorandum of Understanding with the Fijian Elections Office and continue our collaboration. We are looking forward to continued cooperation in the years to come.” International IDEA is engaged in conducting joint activities with FEO, most recently the development of university courses on electoral management—a partnership between International IDEA, FEO, the Indonesian Embassy and the University of the South Pacific.
Along the same lines, Mr Mohammed Saneem, Supervisor of Elections representing the Fijian Elections Office, noted, “The FEO would like to thank International IDEA for continuing their collaboration with us and we look forward to something interesting in the future. In fact, our actual endeavor is to list Fiji as one of the signatory countries to the International IDEA statute so that we are able to benefit from and to participate in electoral democracy-related activities of countries that are already on that platform.“
Performance of the previous MoU started with International IDEA’s participation at the Pacific Electoral Networks meeting in Nadi, Fiji in 2016 where presentations were done on election best practices. International IDEA also supplied the FEO with copies of its publications, which they passed on to public libraries in Fiji.
Also in 2016, the two institutions conducted a joint training on electoral risk management, where the FEO is looking forward to using the electoral risk management tool during the next elections this year. More recently, International IDEA provided assistance in the development of the Candidate’s Handbook designed to provide information to would-be candidates on various rules and procedures (the first of its kind in Fiji).
In 2017, the Supervisor of Elections contributed to International IDEA’s book entitled “Introducing Biometric Technology in Elections” where Fiji’s interesting experience in creating its electronic voter register (EVR) within a relatively short time is shared with the world.
More recently, in early July 2018, both institutions alongside the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission conducted an open forum with civil society organizations on electoral processes where exchanges took place about various issues concerning preparations for this year’s general elections. This was conducted as part of the EU-funded C3-Fiji Project led by International IDEA in partnership with national civil society organizations.
As Fiji anticipates the next elections to be called only within weeks, this cooperation is well placed to enhance civil society engagement in electoral processes before and after the elections.