Multinational Observation Group to Oversee Upcoming Elections in Fiji

By Max Bartels

Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania 


Suva, Fiji 

Fiji is set to have their first democratic election since the military coup of 2006 and many are nervous that the elections will change nothing. Military leader Frank Bainimarama seized power in 2006 and has been the nation’s dictator ever since, he has now stepped down from that role and runs as a candidate in the presidential elections taking place next month. There are mixed feelings about Bainimarama’s time in power, many Fijians praise his efforts to improve the standard of living for the islanders others found his style of rule oppressive. There have been many reports of human rights abuses under Bainimarama’s watch that is why Fiji has asked for outside help to observe the elections and ensure that there is no corruption involved and the will of the people is effectively implemented.

IW #12 MOG
Frank Bainimarama during his recent campaign visit to New Zealand
(Photo Curtesy of ABC News)

Australia has been invited by the interim Fijian government to co-lead the Multinational Observation Group (MOG) along  Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and India. Many other nations have also been invited and are in the process of sending observers including Israel, South Africa, Brazil, Russia, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Iran and the U.K. Canada and the U.S have also been invited to send observers and have expressed interest in doing so. Australia is especially excited to participate in the election according to Peter Reith, the appointed head of the observational group, Australian are keen to repair relations with Fiji since the 2006 coup.

The observation group is said to be given complete freedom of movement across Fiji and complete access to deal with the Fijian Government, political parties and organizations. Two reports will be issued as a result of the operation, one will be issued immediately after the election, the other will be released within two months of the election. The first is focused on whether the election was effective and allowed the Fijian people to represent their will. The second will contain recommendations as to how the Fijian Government can be more effective in implementing elections in the future. The point of both is to provide confidence in the results not just for the Fijian people but for the international community as well.

Bainimarama stated recently during a campaign trip to New Zealand that he will accept the results if the election goes against him. He swore to upheld the newly created constitution that protects Fiji from another military coup. The MOG is already on the ground in Fiji observing the political parties, candidates and preparations for the elections.

For more information, please see:

The Fiji Times — Watch and Improve — 27 August, 2014

ABC News — Elections: Australia to Co-Lead Multinational Observation Group with Indonesia, India and PNG — 15 August 2014 

ABC News — Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama Pledges to Accept Election Results During NZ Visit — 11 August 2014

ABC News — Fiji Leader Frank Bainimarama Greeted by Protesters Outside Sydney Election Rally — 23 August 2014



Sons of a Father’s Disappearance and a Mother’s Struggle

Boko Haram Leader Claims Control Of Nigerian Town





By Ashley Repp
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa


Gowza, Nigeria-  Boko Haram Releases Video Claiming Control in Northern Nigeria


Abubakar Shekau, the leader of Boko Haram, an Islamic militant group with its roots in Nigeria, released a video commending group members for their work in capturing the town of Gowza.  The video asserts that the town, with a population of about 265,000, will now be under the governance of Islamic Law, and that this is major victory for the militants.


Citizens of northern Nigeria are not strangers to the presence of Boko Haram, and the violence that tails the group.  Since 2009, thousands have been indiscriminately killed at the hands of Boko Haram.  Just this year, nearly 4,000 civilians fell victim to the deadly violence that Boko Haram so frequently employs in asserting authority and dominance.  The video recently released by Abubakar Shekau, shows pickup trucks with armed militants driving into Gowza.  About 20 men are shot dead in the video as well.  Many fled upon the arrival of the militants, though many were not fortunate enough to avoid the onslaught of gunfire and grenades.

Though the Nigerian military asserts that it is still in full control of Nigeria in its entirety, Boko Haram contends that this is untrue.  Many civilians in the area have also expressed that Nigerian military has been absent from the region.  Military absence creates a space in which Boko Haram influence can proliferate.  Furthermore, with the rise of ISIS in the Middle East, the growing influence of Boko Haram is particularly concerning.  While Abubakar Shekau mentioned Iraq in his video, there was no specific mention of an alliance or allegiance between ISIS and Boko Haram.  Nevertheless, this will be an allegiance to pay particular attention to.

Ultimately, in light of the recent news regarding Boko Haram, including their claim of responsibility in the kidnapping of about 200 school girls in April, the group is an entity that appears to have the requisite strength and ominous shadow to continue to grow.  Further growth will certainly compound issues for Nigeria, a country currently reeling from the devastation of an outbreak and the continued presence of Boko Haram.  It goes without saying that the Boko Haram situation will only continue to grow in strength and presence, unless it can be stopped, in the very least, by government and military forces.  Until a decisive shift in either direction is made, it seems the world, and Nigerians, can only watch and wait.

For more information please visit:

BBC NewsBoko Haram Declares ‘Islamic State’ in Nigeria– 25 Aug, 2014

Boston Herald- Nigeria: Boko Haram Declares it is Islamic Caliphate– 25 Aug, 2014

Times of India- Boko Haram Chief Declares ‘Caliphate’ in Nigeria Town– 25 Aug, 2014

Reuters- Boko Haram Leader Says Ruling Nigerian Town by Islamic Law– 25 Aug, 2014






Confusion and Misunderstanding Fuel the Ebola Fire

By Ashley Repp
News Desk Reporter, Africa

West Africa– Lack of government outreach and denial of the disease are adding kindling to the Ebola fire. Denial regarding Ebola has been an overarching reality in many West African nations.  In March and April many governments refused to admit that there were Ebola cases in their villages, asserting to the international community that there was no chance of an Ebola outbreak, no looming epidemic to contend with.  Governments misstepped again by failing to alert the public to the presence of the deadly virus within their respective countries.  This issue was further compounded by the general lack of knowledge of how the virus is spread, and without dissemination of information regarding proper health precautions on how to avoid becoming infected, many West Africans are in denial that Ebola is actually an issue at their doorstep, or are fearful of the disease they don’t understand.  Regardless of which side West Africans find themselves on, their governments should be faulted for the limited resources, information, and awareness provided to combat the rapidly spreading virus.


Ebola is spread by contact with bodily fluids including, sweat, blood, urine, vomit, and mucus.  Understanding this is key, yet very few West Africans are aware of this.  As a result, ritual burials that often include extensive contact with the dead body still continue, despite the fact that such contact with a body infected with Ebola could be lethal.  As one news report mentioned, many people waver between fear and denial, exemplified by a girl in Liberia yelling at her friend not to touch her because “Ebola in town.”  Her friend responded that Ebola isn’t real, the government planted this seed of fear.  Others are certain that West African governments are only using Ebola to get aid from nations like the United States, and that it is not an actual issue.  Ultimately, denial and fear are spurring on Ebola, and lack of government outreach and uniformed people, are supporting the epidemic’s survival.

It wasn’t until several days ago that one country, Guinea, decided to shut its borders in an effort to keep Ebola at bay.  But with West Africa’s porous borders and largely weak governments, it is unlikely that this measure will ultimately have much effect.  Nevertheless, in the aftermath of West African governments failing their people by not disseminating information regarding the disease, and denying the Ebola crisis, steps, such as closing borders, may be a turning point for the epidemic.  But have these precautions come too late?


For more information, please visit:

All Africa- Guinea Shuts Boarders in Bid to Halt Ebola Spread- 9 Aug, 2014

All Africa- Nigeria: Ebola- Many Nigerians Still Ignorant of Disease- 8 Aug, 2014

All Africa- Liberia: You Ain’t Know Ebola In Town?- 9 Jul, 2014

All Africa- West Africa: Misconceptions Fuel Ebola Outbreak- 14 Jul, 2014