Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, commenting on yesterday’s registration of three political parties, says that the process for the registration of political parties put in place by the Bainimarama Government is clearly independent and transparent.
The Attorney-General said that the Political Parties (Registration, Conduct, Funding and Disclosures) Decree, for the first time in Fiji’s history, has introduced high standards of conduct for political parties, and accountability and transparency with respect to the sources of their funding and the nature of their accounts.
“Unlike any time in Fiji’s past, political parties are now accountable to members of the public and to their own members,” he said. “Previously, these parties were run like fiefdoms, and were the domain of only a handful of party insiders and/or family members, who never made their accounts public.”
The Attorney-General said that these were the same politicians who, over the past few weeks, have been making numerous statements to the media laying all kinds of wild accusations before the registration process was allowed to take its course.
“The Registrar for Political Parties follows due process, as yesterday’s registration demonstrates,” the AG said. “The Political Party Decree applies to everybody, and applies to everybody equally. When the Prime Minister forms his political party, for example, that party will be bound by exactly the same rules.”
He said that he was not surprised to see the same old politicians continuing to participate in political gimmickry. “For them, there is no rational critique of the process, but rather an attempt to score cheap political points. For example, today one such politician of SODELPA claimed that his party will be making a declaration of its assets and liabilities ‘under protest’, as if his party were being unfairly singled out.”
The Attorney-General added that in addition to the requirements of the Political Parties Decree, the Draft Constitution establishes an Accountability and Transparency Commission that will be responsible for enforcing Fiji’s first code of conduct for public officers, which the Bainimarama Government will put in place in the next few months, as well as have unprecedented powers to investigate complaints against public office holders.
“Let us not forget that this is all part of the very draft constitution that the so-called United Front for a Democratic Fiji has completely repudiated,” he said. “The Bainimarama Government has put in place new standards, is requiring more transparency, and has established a framework for comprehensive political and electoral reforms, and yet all these politicians interpret this as them being picked on,” he said.
“Frankly, their hypocrisy is staggering. No former government held political parties to a high standard of conduct and transparency, and no former government put in place a code of conduct for public officers, even though the 1997 constitution required it,” the Attorney-General said.