Politics

Supervisor Of Elections Cautions SODELPA (in suspension) MP Over Social Media Post

“Mr Nawaikula has also incorrectly contended that even though the SODELPA has been suspended, the Parliamentarians should have been afforded the opportunity to participate in Parliament. This is an incorrect assumption, both in fact and law.”
02 Jun 2020 11:42
Supervisor Of Elections Cautions SODELPA (in suspension) MP Over Social Media Post
Registrar of Political Parties and Supervisor of Election Mohammed Saneem on May 26, 2020. Photo: Ronald Kumar.

Supervisor of Elections Mohammed Saneem has cautioned SODELPA (in suspension) MP, Niko Nawaikula, to seek proper legal advice before he produces articles to mislead the public.

Mr Nawaikula posted on his social media account on Sunday titled “Parliament Wrong in Suspending Opposition MPs – A Fascist Fiji”.

In a press conference yesterday, Mr Saneem said Mr Nawaikula was wrong when he suggested that the Supervisor of Elections was advising the Speaker of Parliament.

Mr Saneem said the Speaker was an independent authority with a set of staff who were qualified legal professionals and constitutionally mandated legal advice from various offices.

“As such it does not have to seek and it did not seek the advice of the Supervisor of Elections and this is an incorrect assumption by Mr Nawaikula,” he said.

“Mr Nawaikula has also incorrectly contended that even though the SODELPA has been suspended, the Parliamentarians should have been afforded the opportunity to participate in Parliament. This is an incorrect assumption, both in fact and law.”

Mr Saneem also clarified the following:

  • Under the electoral system, nominations at the general election are done by political parties using party lists. All candidates for the election by the party are listed by order of preference in the party list by the party;
  • Once all the results are in, the Supervisor of Elections prepares the final national results tally which contains the total number of votes achieved by each candidate listed in descending order within the party;
  • The total votes received by the party is used to determine if that party has met the threshold of 5 per cent; and
  • If the party has met the threshold, then the Electoral Commission determines the number of seats that the party will occupy in Parliament. The Electoral Commission will then fill those seats from the candidates of the party from the final national results tally.

Mr Saneem said it was a party-based system.

He highlighted that in the case of the suspended SODELPA, there were 21 seats and the 21 candidates who had received the highest number of votes from that party were currently suspended.

“Those Parliamentarians are in the Parliament representing their party and cannot claim entitlement to the seat in Parliament personally. It is a party seat.

“Therefore, as per the Political Parties Act, once the party is suspended it cannot hold itself out or function as a Political Party.

“This would include its functions to be present in Parliament.

“Since the party has not been de-registered yet, Mr Nawaikula, in referring to section 20 of the Act, is rather putting the cart before the horse.

“Since there still remains significant time to remedy the contravention, going any further on the effects of section 20 is rather moot at this point,” Mr Saneem said.

He also added that it was of paramount importance that officials in the suspended party act on remedying the breaches, if they had not done so until now, instead of making such poorly researched statements on social media.

“Having perused such statements, I am obliged to clarify the legal position and on the same note, I caution Mr Nawaikula to seek proper legal advice before he produces such articles to mislead the public,” Mr Saneem said.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro

Feedback: ashna.kumar@fijisun.com.fj


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