7 Mar 2012

Niue by-election after oath declared void

4:15 pm on 7 March 2012

A by-election will be held in the Niue village of Toi on March the 31st after the High Court ruled the elected MP had not been sworn in properly.

The Speaker, Hiva Levy, had travelled to Auckland to take the oath of allegiance from the then ill MP, Dion Taufitu.

But another MP, and former Secretary of Justice, Togia Sioneholo, challenged this, saying it contravened the Westminster parliamentary system which requires the oath to be publicly administered, and in Niue's case, typically in the Fale Fono.

He says the Court declared that the oath had not been taken, making the seat vacant.

"The Speaker took it upon himself to travel to Auckland and try to have the oath taken there so he could avoid that provision in the electoral laws, and I challenged him on that and said he cannot do that. He said there is nothing in the constitution that prevents him from doing that and I said no. His authority is basically restricted to within the Parliament."