Judicial system questioned

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By Gary Hatigeva

A senior legal statesman who requested not to be named said the last minute ruling on the Temotu Vatud case is a bad reflection on the judiciary.

He said while it is encouraging to see the legal system still intact, the people of Temotu Vatud have the right to a properly elected representative in parliament. Unfortunately they will be without one until election time.

On Monday, the High Court of Solomon Islands ruled on a petition case against the now ousted Member of Parliament for the Vatud constituency, disqualifying her membership status to represent the Polynesian dominated constituency.

“It is a disgrace, what can you do when we have only two months left before the house is dissolved? And of course, you can’t hold a by-election in such a short time,” he questioned.

He added that in other parts of the world, cases in this nature are given a special court hearing, so that outcomes are known earlier, and if they resulted in MPs being disqualified, at least there would be more than enough time to hold fresh elections, with a legitimate leader elected.

He therefore urged that election petitions be dealt with seriously to avoid people denied years of illegitimate representations.

He further added that if such cases are given the right timeframe to be dealt with, at least whoever that would be elected in a by-election, has more time to deal with the matters and affairs of the affected constituencies.

“We cannot hold people at ransom by denying their right to have a lawfully elected representative in parliament, which it is so in this case for the people of Temotu Vatud constituency,” the legal personal stressed.

He then suggested that an election petition should have a special court to speedily deal with cases in this nature so to allow for necessary processes to take place, and that would include an early by-election if required.

With the election period just around the corner, the people of Temotu Vatud constituency will obviously be without a representative for the next five months, as there is only less than two months left before the current house is dissolved.

Despite all these, there is hope in the new Electoral Act, which according to Electoral Officials, who in an earlier meeting with the local press, revealed that the Electoral Act 2018 now provides for the Court to decide on any election petition within 12 months from the date the petition was filed.

The new act however maintains that a petition case may be filed within 30 days after results of a national election.

Understandably based on Section 74 of the Constitution, the Governor General is expected to set an election date after the December dissolution of the 10th Parliament House.

This would also mean that the Temotu Vatud constituents will likely wait for the national general election period, before they can elect their new parliament representative.

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