Fiji Elections chief issues legal order for Times to remove ‘no apology’ article

Fiji Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem raises a point
Fiji Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem raises a point during the press conference at the Fijian Elections Office in Toorak, Suva, yesterday. Image: Atu Rasea/The Fiji Times

By Felix Chaudhary in Suva

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem has issued a legal direction to The Fiji Times to remove an article which he said misquoted him.

Saneem objected to the headline of the article, which read: “Saneem: I will not apologise.”

Unity Fiji party candidate Riaz Mohammed had demanded that Saneem apologise for initially rejecting his nomination on the grounds of an alleged criminal conviction.

In response, Saneem, declining to apologise, said that if Mohammed wanted an apology “that means we have some malice, there is no malice in this”.

Saneem issued a legal notice to The Fiji Times yesterday under section 144A of the Electoral Act, directing the removal of the online article.

In a separate letter to The Fiji Times, Saneem said he “did not make the statement as quoted in your headline”.

“The headline is clearly misleading and also appears to be fabricated by Fiji Times,” Saneem said.

“If the same is your own views, then you should correctly identify it to yourself and not the SOE.”

Fiji Times disagrees
Section 144A, giving the power to the Supervisor to remove or correct “false statements” was enacted by Parliament last year.

Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley replied it was not necessary for the Elections Supervisor to serve legal notices on the newspaper every time he wanted a correction to a news story.

Wesley said he did not agree that The Fiji Times had breached the law but was prepared to remove the article as directed because “it was not an article of great importance”.

Felix Chaudhary is a Fiji Times reporter. Republished with permission.

A screenshot from the Fiji Times 19112022
A screenshot from today’s Fiji Times – the Fijian Elections Office directive and Fiji Times editor-in-chief Fred Wesley’s reply. Image: FT screenshot APR
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