February 15, 2019

Solomon Islands election chief appeals to citizen not to break the law

Solomon Islands Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Mose Saitala appeals to all citizens of this nation not to take the law into your own hands.

Saitala issued the appeal in response to a group of voters in Ward 17 in East Kwaio Constituency, Malaita Province for making their stand not to vote unless they are paid with cash.

The group’s spokesman and Chief Jack Gege said they came up with the decision to trade their votes for cash after missing out from constituency projects over the past years.

“We will only cast our ballot papers if any intending candidate gives us cash money.

“We are firm with our decision because we have not benefited from any government or constituency project for the last 10-15 years,” Chief Gege said as reported in this paper early this week.

But Saitala told this paper that he feels for citizens feeling this way and want to avenge their anger against candidates for their performances in the past demanding that they be paid for their votes this time.

“My only plea to our good citizens is please don’t take the law into your own hands,” Saitala told the Solomon Star.

He further stated that the very act of demanding a benefit in exchange for your vote is a blatant exhibition of the act of election bribery.

“And that carries maximum penalty of $150,000 (US$18,763) or 15 years imprisonment or both,” Saitala added.

He said some good citizens of this country might not necessarily know about this offence in the Electoral Act, and they need to know.

“Otherwise it is not wise to openly defy a lawfully prohibited act by an Act of Parliament. We have to somewhat protect our sovereignty vested in the institution of Parliament.

“It is a sacrosanct institution that is supposed to hold Solomon Islands together as one country irrespective of its diversity,” he further added.

Saitala said it is Members of Parliament that our citizens are not happy with not parliament per se.

“It’s important therefore that we vote in the right people, not candidates who can pay for our votes,” Saitala told this paper.
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