UN observer teams leave tomorrow for polling centres around the country
Report based on official news releases

Suva (Fiji), 22nd August 2001

19 United Nations Observer teams will begin departing Suva for various Constituencies, Counting Centres and more than 800 polling stations on Thursday and Friday prior to the general elections on Saturday, August 25th, 2001.

At a press conference today attended by UN Election Observers and members of the media, the Chief of the Mission, Nguyen Huu Dong, said the vital responsibility of the team is to monitor the impartiality of the electoral authorities, polling activities and the counting and computation of votes.

He said the nineteen observer teams will begin leaving on Thursday and Friday to various parts of Fiji, to be in position to observe the voting from the start.

According to their deployment plan, the teams will be based at the Central Division comprising of Tailevu, Naitasiri and Rewa provinces.

In the Western Division, the teams will cover Ba West, East, Nadroga/Navosa and Ra provinces whereas in the Northern Division, Cakaudrove West, East, Bua, Macuata West and East will be covered.

The Eastern Division will comprise of Lau, Kadavu and Lomaiviti where UN team members will be present.

“We will visit constituencies and counting centres and observe most of Fiji’s more than 800 polling stations around the country, “ said Mr Dong.

He said the team will also monitor the announcement of results and the immediate post-election environment.

In a way, said Mr Dong, we, as international observers, have a role similar to that of the media. We are both witnesses and we both point light into dark corners, so there is accountability in behaviour.

According to Mr Dong, the United Nations takes its orders from 189 different governments and, unanimously, the UN General Assembly authorized the Secretariat to respond to the invitation of the government of Fiji to send electoral observers.

“That means, this election is extremely significant in the eyes of the international community, since it marks Fiji’s decision to bring the country back to democratic processes,” he said.

He said, free and fair elections are a peaceful means of national decision-making as they contribute to national peace and security for all citizens of a country.

Mr Dong concluded in saying the people and government of Fiji decided to return to the process, and called on the international community to be present at this moment.