Political parties to fight back charges
BY JARED KOLI
The two political parties facing possible charges for breaching electoral laws are bracing to defend themselves.
The United Party (UP) admits failure on their part to submit the documents in time, however says they’ll file for defence.
The People First Party (SIPFP) could follow in UP’s shadow.
Both are being accused of breaching Section 59 and Section 65 of the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014.
Political Party Commission Registrar Jasper Highwood Anisi told Island Sun this week the commission would shortly advise the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and National Criminal Investigation Department (NCID) to lay formal charges against the UP and SIPFP.
Mr Anisi said the two political parties failed to adhere to the Act by not providing their financial statements to the Commission after the November 18, 2020 Central Honiara By-election.
UP Secretary Abraham Namokari however says it depends on how the Act is interpreted.
“The executive will meet and look at the defence in regard to the Section of the Act. It depends on the Act and how we interpret it, so we will consider all of our grounds of defence and proceed on with it once the commission take it to court.”
He admits that it was a failure on their part to submit the financial expenditure and audit reports in time.
Mr Namokari said his party had handed over the financial records and expenditure, but after the grace period had lapsed.
President of SIPFP Joyce Konofilia said she will reserve her comment and will consult with UP before issuing any statement on this.
However, she said they have their own reasons why they did not submit their financial statements.
According to Section 59 (1) of the PPI Act: “A political party shall, within 90 days after the close of the polling in an election, lodge with the Commission in the prescribed form a financial statement of donations received, including their sources, and election expenses.”
Subsection (2) said: “For the purpose of subsection (1), the financial statement of the political party must also include the donations received, their sources and election expense by the political party for each candidate.”
Section 65 states: “A political party that contravenes section 59 (financial statement of income and election expenses), commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of $15,000 penalty units.”
Mr Anisi said the Office have the discretion to give a grace period, the Commission has the power to extend it but “we have exhausted all channels so we have to follow what the Political Party Integrity Act (PPIA) stated as per section 59”.
He said the commission is serious with the PPIA and wants to see the audit reports of parties contesting in the National General Elections.