21 Feb 2006

Chairman of Solomons electoral commission defies call to resign

9:39 am on 21 February 2006

The Chairman of the Electoral Commision in Solomon Islands says he entitled to the president of the United Party while holding his post at the Commission.

A former chief electoral officer, John Babalu, has called for Sir Peter Kenilorea's resignation because he says the chairman cannot be seen as neutral if he belongs to a party.

However Sir Peter, who is also the current parliamentary speaker, says he is well within his constitutional rights holding by being party president and Electoral chairman.

"I'm very surprised that a chief electoral officer, once upon a time, should raise some uninformed and uneducated comments publicly on this particular issue because as far as the constitution provides, individual and personal, political affiliations and associations are protected under Section 13."

Sir Peter says the constitution only says an electoral chairman cannot stand as a candidate in the elections which are to be held in April.

Sir Peter says because parliament is finished for this term it would be impossible for him to resign even if there was reason to.

A chairman of the electoral commission is a constitutionally-appointed post. The constitution says that it shall be a chairman of the electoral commission and he happens to be a speaker of parliament. To now talk in terms of a possible resignation, it's not possible because there's no parliament now to elect a replacement if I were to resign.