It is not over until it’s over

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IT was good to see the voter registration exercise was completed without much drama – at least that’s how the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission would have loved to have it recorded.

It was not an easy job. That much must be acknowledged

It is only fair that credit is given where it’s due. But there are issues that SIEC must deal with and deal with now to ensure there is no confusion, particularly when the moment of truth arrives.

There are disturbing signs last week for example. One message was sent through Our Telekom SMS messaging to all on the network asking voters to check Provisional Voter List, which SIEC says are now being displayed at all Polling stations around the country.

A telephone call to some of the polling stations confirmed there were no Provisional Voter lists on display. I don’t know what to call it, a white lie perhaps. But to spread such untruth about something so important as the National General Election is being totally irresponsible on the part of the SIEC and its field staff.

As well as that, the premature announcement appears to be suggesting something of the past. By making such a false announcement, are the SIEC staff suggesting that they have a list of their own? It is a very serious matter.

SIEC staff in the past were known for allegedly providing certain individual candidates, particularly government ministers two sets of voter lists. By telling voters around the nation to check for their names on the Provisional Voter List when they know that even the provisional list from the voter registration is being compiled is rather disturbing.

At the time of sending the SMS, SIEC staff know that even the provisional list from the voter registration were not quite complete, let alone, ready.

So why are they behaving like this?

The Solomon Islands Electoral Commission has a duty to the people of this country in keeping them informed correctly and timely. SIEC must come out and tell us that what they did was wrong.

The 2019 National General Election is and should be the turning point for this nation. It should not be marred by actions of a few individuals whose intention is to make money from those who want to secure a seat at the next election at the expense of the unsuspecting majority.

I just hope that it was a genuine mistake.

The other area of concern is why the provision in the new Electoral Act 2018 on voting in Constituencies other than your own.

One lawyer has made it clear that the provision has not been activated which means that those who registered in other Constituencies are allowed to do so. It was rather unfortunate that the media troupe engaged by the SIEC has not highlighted this prior to and during the voter registration period.

They should have done so to avoid the confusion which forced many people to deregister and to return to their constituencies of their origin. In a way it was good the SIEC did not put any emphasis on this. Doing so would have emptied some constituencies of voters whose ultimate aim is to receive monetary rewards for migrating to constituencies other than their own.

One can only hope that challenges ahead are not going to deny genuine voters their responsibility to be free from coercion and inducements by those who are very desperate to grab a seat.

What a pity.

Genuine voters should keep in mind that winning back this nation is not going to be over until the election is over.

By Alfred Sasako

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