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New electoral law paying off

 

By Alfred Sasako

STEEP penalties in the newly enacted Electoral law are said to be creating headaches for political parties with reports that some Party members have deserted their camps in search of greener grasses, sources have revealed.

The Electoral Act 2018 was gazetted last Thursday, strengthening the hands of law enforcement officers in pursuing alleged breach or breaches of the new Act. Penalties of up to $50,000, five years in prison or both apply

A senior partner in the current coalition government has reportedly lost about five members including ministers in the past week. They were reportedly unhappy with their party’s leadership.

Sources said the deserters were looking for leadership in how the Party would assist them in funding their preparations for the election, expected in early March next year.

“They were pretty unhappy with the Party leadership,” one source told Island Sun on the weekend.

It is understood these MPs have ended up pledging their support for the Opposition. Whether the pledge was subject to financial means being provided is anyone’s guess.

Opposition insiders said at least 22 MPs on the government side have pledged their support for a group within the Opposition.

“I can confirm all 22 MPs from the government have pledged to contest the election as Opposition members. They’ve expressed the view that they are tired of being taken for a ride for the last four years,” one Opposition insider told Island Sun yesterday.

“The way things are, I think many more will be coming to join our group,” he said.

Meanwhile, hundreds if not thousands of voters poached to register in Constituencies other than their own, are expected to take advantage of a four-day grace period to withdraw their registration or face steep penalties in the Electoral Act.

Hundreds if not thousands of would-be voters were lured to Honiara by promises of money to register in Constituencies other than their own in order to vote for a candidate(s) promising large payments.

Many candidates have spent huge amounts of money in chartering boats to take the new voters to Honiara to register.

Chief Electoral Commissioner, Mose Saitala, last week warned that people who registered to vote in Constituencies other than their own without valid reasons must rescind their registration in order to avoid steep penalties stipulated in the new Act.

Mr Saitala said these people have until Thursday, September 27 to reverse their registration by signing Form B, which formalises their new registration in their own Constituencies.

Failure to do so would incur being reported to the Electoral Commission, which would take the necessary steps in investigating whether a crime has been committed, he said.

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