THE Gizo-Kolombangara by-election is set to go ahead next month, with seven months remaining before the current parliament dissolves.
The by-election is to fill a parliamentary seat that was left vacant since December 2017.
With Parliament dissolving around the second week of December to make way for fresh national general elections around April next year, the incoming Member of Parliament to fill this seat will serve the shortest term.
This by-election is required by law to happen as it is a constitutional right of a voter to have a voice in parliament through an elected MP and it is the responsibility of the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission (SIEC) to fulfil this.
The SIEC has confirmed that the voters’ list for the Gizo-Kolombangara by-election is ready.
The Governor General, Sir Frank Kabui, yesterday proclaimed May 23 as the polling day.
In a statement, SIEC Chief Electoral Officer, Mose Saitala, confirmed that nominations opens today and will run for 14 days.
SIEC will finalise the candidate list when the nomination period closes on April 25 at 4pm.
From April 25 to May 23, candidates are expected to go in full swing with their campaigns.
According to the statement, Mr Saitala said nomination forms can be collected from the SIEC office in Honiara or from the Returning Officer, Christian Siale, in Gizo in the Western province.
He confirmed a candidate must be nominated by three registered voters within the constituency and the nomination form must be properly completed and returned to the Returning Officer with a non-refundable nomination fee of $2,000 before 4pm on April 25.
SIEC encourages constituents and intending contestants to ensure nomination rules and legal requirements are upheld.
It is also a legal requirement that a candidate must be at least 21 years old and a citizen of Solomon Islands.
Saitala confirmed that the SIEC has made its decision few weeks ago that the by-election for Gizo-Kolombangara be held immediately.
“The Commission decision paved the way for the Governor General’s decision today proclaiming Wednesday, 23rd May, as the polling day for the Gizo-Kolombangara by-election.”
The SIEC advises people from Gizo-Kolombangara constituency to prepare to choose their representative.
The SIEC has advised people in the constituency to listen to the national broadcaster (SIBC) and Radio Happy Lagoon as well as look up other media outlets for updates regarding important activities in the lead up to the by-election.
The news of the election date being set has been received with mix reaction from members of the public. Some are concerned that the by-election is a waste of tax-payer money given the current financial situation of the country, while others are firm the by-election is a legal right of Gizo-Kolombangara constituents to have a representative even with the short time remaining.
The Gizo-Kolombangara seat was left vacant when the High Court disqualified Jimson Tanangada.
Mr Tanagada was the Minister for Home Affairs (MHA) when the Court made the ruling that he was guilty of bribing people to vote for him during the 2014 national general elections.
Losing candidate and former Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo successfully lodged the petition against Tanangada. It took three years before the Court made its ruling on the matter.
Lilo is reportedly re-contesting the seat. Tanaagada is unlikely to contest the seat.