BY GEORGINA KEKEA
THE Solomon Islands United Party is calling on the government to quickly carry out the process of installing a Commissioner of Elections to oversee the Registration of Political Parties.
Speaking to Island Sun during the opening of their new office space last week, Party Interim President, Peter Kenilorea Jnr says the duty is on the Prime Minister make this call.
“I think it is very important otherwise people will see this as politically motivated. Because a lot of these things comes back to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister nominates and the Governor General appoints.”
Kenilorea Jnr says for the SIUP they have a few changes in their manifesto that they would like to make known but they cannot do so until such time their political party is registered.
“We want our work to be carried out in accordance with the country’s laws thus we cannot promote what our Party has because we are yet to be officially registered.”
In the Electoral Act 2018, a couple of the reasons for the current amendments that directly affects the political parties are; to increase the membership of the Electoral Commission to five members, which will also deal with the registration of political parties currently undertaken by the Political Parties Commission under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014 and the other is to establish a new position of Commissioner of Elections as the administrative head of the office responsible for elections and will also act as the Registrar for Political Parties under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.
Kenilorea says United Party has already submitted their application but because of the new changes, their application is still lying there.
He says though they have an office space, the party’s work will rely heavily on the approval by the Commissioners before they can start working on the making their party a legitimate body as well as carry out awareness on their manifesto.
During the interview, SIUP interim President also make known the step down of businessman Adam Bartlett to contest the small Malaita seat.
Earlier it was anticipated that Mr Bartlett will contest the National General Election under the SIUP banner.
However due to family obligations, Bartlett will not be contesting this time round but is strongly supportive of the Solomon Islands United Party and has been instrumental in securing an office space for the Political party and is a current member of the United Party.
“Anybody can be a member. Our constitution is quite flexible. But we will wait until we are properly registered before we can go public with our party policy,” Kenilorea Jnr says.
At the same time, he said that he wants to see Electoral Commissioners be seen as an independent body and not one functioning under any of the Government’s Ministry.
He said he is gravely concerned on the independence of such an important function in the country’s operation but hopes that in the future, this can be delved into.
He also said SIUP is wary of the limited timeline they have in order to be registered as a political party as well as the amount of work needed to be done before the NGE in early 2019.
He said it is very important the commissioners are installed as soon as possible.
Island Sun understands that once the Governor General announces the registration date, no political parties should be allowed to register to contest in the upcoming NGE under the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.
Kenilorea Jnr said he is quite skeptical about independent candidates contesting the NGE but hopes that in the long run, people will be more attuned to political parties then individual candidates.