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Address at the Return of the Writ to His Excellency the President.

December 18, 2018       Britannia Room, Grand Pacific Hotel, Suva.

The Honourable Attorney-General, Hon. Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum 

The Leaders and Members of Political Parties

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Suresh Chandra and the Members of the Commission

Supervisor of Elections, Mr. Mohammed Saneem and your Senior Management Team

Your Excellencies and members of the Diplomatic Corps

The Co-chairs, Ms. Jane Prentice and Mr. Mukesh Chandra Sahu and Members of the Multinational Observer Group

Distinguished Guests; and 

Members of the Media

Bula vinaka and a very good afternoon to you all.

On the first of October, 2018 in this very same room, I, as the President of the Republic of Fiji, acting in accordance with section 59(1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Fiji and Section 21 of the Electoral Act 2014, and on the advice of the Honourable Prime Minister, issued the Writ for Elections to the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission to hold elections for the people of our beloved nation and to return the Writ on or before the 28th day of November, 2018.

I am pleased to have received the Return of the Writ earlier than expected and I wish to commend and acknowledge the hard work of all the individuals who had contributed to the successful return of the Writ today.

I wish to acknowledge, first and foremost, the Elections Office and the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mr. Suresh Chandra, and his fellow Commissioners. I also commend the Supervisor of Elections Mr. Mohammed Saneem and his senior management team who have been at the forefront of leading this election process. Thank you for your excellent work, your effort is key to the supporting the very foundations of our democracy and you deserve to be very proud of what you have accomplished. 

I followed the voting process on polling day very closely, and I have been glad to see the many Fijians who have expressed their satisfaction with the voting process by saying this process was easier and more transparent than they have ever experienced before. So, Mr Saneem, I thank you for your leadership in that regard and congratulate you, and your hardworking team once again, on a job well done. 

I acknowledge and thank the Multinational Observer Group, the Co-Chairs, the Honourable Ms. Jane Prentice and Mr. Mukesh Chandra Sahu and your team of observers from your respective countries for being an objective and impartial voice throughout this process that has supported the strength of the independent institutions of our democracy. Vinaka Vakalevu for your commitment to being part of this process and your contribution to the health of democracy in our country. 

I personally thank the volunteers who have been part of the elections process for the past weeks.  It has been a tireless journey with many sleepless nights and time away from your families.  But you have all played a vital role in promoting the health of our democracy and you should be extremely proud of the work you have put in. 

Most importantly, I thank and acknowledge the hundreds of thousands of Fijians who turned up on polling day. You have performed your civic duty, as Fijians, you have spoken and you have chosen your government. I was very proud of all Fijians who persisted through the rain to cast their votes, and I especially acknowledge the patience of those who voted at the polling stations that held polling yesterday. Your commitment speaks volumes of the most sacred patriotic values that we all hold dear.

I wish to conclude by saying that we have chosen the individuals to lead us through the next four years and it is my prayer to Almighty God that as Fijians we will stay true to our calling and work together to take our beloved Nation to greater heights. 

Democracy is something that we must protect, nourish and improve over time, and that begins with elections.  We have heard a lot of fierce debates and arguments over these past few weeks, but now that the campaigning is done, we must come together for the benefit of all of our people. There will still be disagreements, of course, but we are civilized people, and we must manage those disagreements with civility and respect, keeping before us the ideal that we must all work to solve problems and improve the lives of every Fijian. 

in accepting the results, I now look forward to swearing-in the new Government, and to opening the new Parliament so that we may continue the work of building a better Fiji for all Fijians. 

May Almighty God bless you all and bless our beloved Nation – Fiji. Thank you and Vinaka Vakalevu.