More than half of Parliament face court challenge over election
By EDDIE OSIFELO
UP to 27 election petition cases have been filed in the High Court at the closure of the petition period on Monday.
This means 54 percent of the winning members of Parliament (MPs) are facing election petition, a figure which sets a history in the politics of Solomon Islands.
Among the MPs who are facing petition are Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Fisheries and Marine Affairs, John Maneniaru, Minister of Infrastructure Development, Manasseh Maelanga, Opposition Leader Matthew Wale, Peter Kenilorea Junior and the nation’s only two female MPs, Lannelle Tanangada and Freda Tuki.
Registrar of High Court & Court of Appeal, Myonnie Ann Tutuo said she will provide the full list of the names today.
She said only Isabel and Rennell and Bellona provinces do not have any registered petition case.
Myonnie managed to provide 24 names of the 27 MPs facing petitions.
MP for East Honiara, Douglas Ete, MP for Central Honiara, John Moffat Fugui and MP for West Honiara, Namson Tran.
Robertson Galokale (South Choiseul) and Manasseh Sogavare (North East Choiseul)
Peter Shanel (Central Guadalcanal, Jamie Vokia (North East Guadalcanal), Anthony Veke (West Guadalcanal), Bradley Tovosia (East Guadalcanal).
Danny Philip (South New Georgia/Rendova/Tetepari), Silas Vangara Tausinga (West New Georgia Vona Vona), Lannelle Tanangada (Gizo Kolombangara).
Peter Kenilorea Junior (East Are Are), John Maneniaru (West Are Are), Levi Senley Filualea (North Malaita), Sam Iduri (West Kwarae) Jackson Fiulau (Central Kwarae), Makario Tagini (Baegu Asifola), Manasseh Maelanga (East Malaita, Mathew Wale (Aoke Langalanga), Augustine Auga (Lau Baelelea), Titus Fika (West Kwaio)
Dickson Mua (Savo Russells_
Freda Tuki – Vatud
According to Solomon Times Online, an election petition can be filed by an elector to the constituency, to which the petition relates, or a candidate for the election in the constituency.
Such a petition must be filed within 30 days after the results of the election are published under Section 7 of the Electoral Act 2018.
The Act also states that the Courts must decide a petition within 12 months after it is filed.
This means the 27 election petition cases will be held between May 2018 and May 2019.
The petitions will test the efficiency of the new Act.
Aside from losing one’s seat, there are serious penalties for major offences such as election bribery and fraudulent voting.
The penalties include up to 15 years imprisonment and/or fines of over $155,990 ($US19,000) as well as an automatic five-year ban on voting or standing in elections.
Lesser offences such as providing misleading information can still land offenders in jail for five years and possibly steep fines.