Solomons coalition mounts legal challenge
The political parties making up Solomon Islands government coalition have called for a judicial review to decide on the legality of the Speaker of Parliament granting a motion of no-confidence without evidence of any rupture in the coalition grouping.
The political parties making up the Solomon Islands government coalition have called for a judicial review to decide on the legality of a motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare.
This comes after seven cabinet ministers walked away from the government last week and have since been replaced by six independent MPs five of whom are to take up ministerial portfolios.
One of the ministers who resigned has since rejoined the government.
The Registrar of Political Parties Calvin Ziru spoke with Koroi Hawkins about the latest developments in the ongoing political turmoil.
CALVIN ZIRU: Having not received any other resignations from other MPs, the Democratic Coalition for Change government have on our record 41 MPs.
KOROI HAWKINS: To be clear that is including the MPs who are said to have resigned because they have not formally made resignations they are still seen on your registry as being with government?
CZ: That is correct, the MPs have resigned as far as we understand as Ministers and those resignations are submitted to Government House. But resignations from their respective political parties have not been formalised and have not been made.
KH: This is the first time that the legislation (Political Parties Integrity Act 2014) has come into play within a motion of no confidence situation. How are you seeing it play out? Is it working the way it was envisioned?
CZ: The legislation currently is under review and that review is mandated by the DCC government. There are a number of areas that we would like to strengthen and these more or less relate to the relationship of this act together with the electoral system of what is more or less be covered under our constitution. But we have for the first time of course the opportunity to see how not just this legislation but how a system works whereby the parties themselves as well as the MPs and their members are trying to uphold what you may call the principles of democracy through what we have now in the Political Parties Integrity Act. And so it is not an issue of whether it is working or whether we are pleased to see it is working. I think more or less it is about all the entities that are involved. The political parties commission, the government, the political parties themselves as well as government house (Office of the Governor General) to an extent coming together and saying our objective is to ensure that we have political stability in the Solomon Islands and what do we have in terms of the constitutional frame work as well as the new Political Parties Act that we currently have. So everybody is doing their best to follow the law and comply with the law for the sake of making things work in so far as politics and political stability is concerned.
KH: Are there any things that MPs are restricted or are not allowed to do under the new legislation?
CZ: The Political Parties Integrity Act governs political parties and not individual MPs. And the movement of MPs from one party to another is not prohibited by the Act. In fact this is something that is provided for even within the Constitution. But the political parties commission has powers to deal with political parties themselves and under the rules where a political party is seen not to have complied with the Act or for example has breached the integrity standards. The commission can deal with the political parties in terms of sanctions, more or less the suspension of political parties and eventually deregistration if that party does not correct the error that it has committed or at least has not complied with the act or the integrity standards. And so that is what we have been telling political parties you have the opportunity to not only develop the system but also develop your institutions.
KH: Now you mentioned your review is looking at links between, the relationship between the electoral system, the constitution. What about the parliament does it have any bearing on the way the motion of no confidence will go down or if it does happen on Friday?
CZ: Well the Parliament governs its own business and of course the parliament the speaker has accepted the motion of no confidence that was tabled by the honourable leader of opposition. There is a case that has been filed at the High Court we expect it to be heard on Thursday afternoon. The political parties more specifically the parties within the government coalition have taken the speaker as well as the office of the registrar to the High Court to see whether the speaker in exercising and accepting the motion of no confidence that was tabled could do so given that you had some of the record independent records through the form of the registered political parties evidence of the numbers on the floor. And so that is before the High Court at this present point in time.
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