BY BARNABAS MANEBONA
CERTAIN members of the general public request for a survey to question why people are doing cross-border registration as currently highly debated in Solomon Islands.
Widespread debate continues over this concern raising disappointment, anger and confusion as on the other hand, it seems according to locals that responsible authorities are ignoring this task to ask for reasons having from their point of view that is not fair too when people doing such practise are quickly condemned.
“If one does not want to vote in a Constituency because he or she dislike the type of political leadership there but then the law comes and arrest them for not following what is legal to their given process then is this not dictatorship over democracy? Where is the individual democratic right to make our own choices? People should not be influenced from such too by the system. It is similar to like ordering the people to get back into a fire,” raised concerned locals to Island Sun over the weekend.
“Many people in the rural areas have been silent victims for years by the ignorance of MPs so what more could they do from usual unheard requests, we believe many moving to other Constituencies do have their own valid reasons as to why they chose to re-register or so in another Constituency. Can their reasons be asked for, heard, investigated and considered too by the authorities?
“It seems that unfairness over us only continues at its best from current advises also seen as threats that people will only be disqualified during the objection period. Many have their own reasons that people should not be too quick to bark on but find time to reason with them. If not then where will we go from here with continuous ignorance from the fact we are in.”
Recently, the Member of Parliament for North East Guadalcanal Hon Dr. Derek Sikua over reports of the cross border registration for voting also explained from his believe that it is a direct result of the amendment recently passed having broadening the definition of ‘ordinary residence’.
Meanwhile, the Office of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) strongly warns both intending candidates and registrants too to refrain from adversely influencing the registration process.
SIEC in a Press Release says there have been reports of intending candidates or their agents facilitating the movement of people between constituencies to register (transfer) to a constituency in which they are not eligible to register in.
“It is one of the serious offences under the Electoral Act to influence a voter.
“It can also be seen as engaging in campaign activity outside the campaign period.
“A person who engages in a campaign activity outside the campaign period for the election commits an offence that comes with a penalty of $20,000 or 2 years imprisonment, or both.”
SIEC strongly warns intending candidates to refrain from activities that may amount to campaigning.
The Commission also extends strong warning to registrants that transferring registration details to a constituency one is not eligible to register and vote in is also a serious offense under the Electoral Act.
“You could be making a false declaration. It is also providing misleading information to registration officials. Giving misleading information document to an election official comes with a penalty of $50,000 or 5 years imprisonment or both.”
The Commission has issued this warning before the commencement of the BVR update exercise early this month and continues to urge people and intending candidates to do the right thing.
It is understood that the Electoral Act 2018 has already come into force, however, a number of sections will come into force at a later date.
SIEC reminds people who are yet to register to do so before September 27th when the BVR update should end.