4 Apr 2013

Tuvalu's PM says divisions must be sorted before by-election proceeds

6:57 am on 4 April 2013

Tuvalu Prime Minister says local division over a series of wrongful dismissals of officials in Nukufetau must be resolved before a by-election can proceed in the constituency.

The opposition is taking a case to the High Court to try to force the government to hold a by-election after the death of the Nukufetau MP, Lotoala Metia, in December.

Willie Telavi denies the opposition's claim that he's stalling over the issue in order to retain a thin parliamentary majority.

He says issues related to the sacking of local officials by the council have caused the delay in the by-election.

As Minister responsible for elections, Mr Telavi has made a High Court application on the matter

"The legislation says that the Minister should call a by-election as soon as practicable after the vacancy of the seat in parliament. So I'm requesting the court interprets for us that provision: whether the Minister has the power to delay a by-election to see that there is a free and fair election."

Willie Telavi says pending the outcome in the High Court, the by-election could proceed in the next few months.