By ANDREW FANASIA
A FORMER member of parliament has lost his candidacy to contest the upcoming elections – just a week before the April 3 polls.
The Electoral Commission office disqualified Mark Kemakeza from contesting the Savo-Russell seat after he was found in breach of electoral rules.
But at the same time, the Electoral office reinstated the candidacy of Alex Kivolyn, who was earlier disqualified from contesting the North Vella la Vella seat in Western Province.
Despite these changes, the total number of candidates contesting the election remained at 353.
Chief Electoral Officer Mose Saitala disclosed these changes, Monday.
On Kemakeza’s case Saitala explained his office made their decision last Saturday following a complaint from the leader of the Solomon Islands Democratic Party (SIDP).
It was reported to Saitala’s office that Kemakeza claimed he is contesting the Savo/Russell seat as a SIDP candidate.
“Unfortunately SIDP submitted their complain last Friday to the Electoral Commission and we immediately sought the opinion of the Attorney General’s Office,” Saitala said.
The AG Chambers acted quickly and offered its opinion on the afternoon of the same day.
On Saturday, the Electoral Commission met and decided to disqualify Kemakeza.
Kemakeza was a former MP for Gela Constituency following his election into parliament in 2006.
He was re-elected again in 2010, but lost the seat two years later in 2012 after the Magistrate Court found him guilty of misusing $280,000 of constituency funds.
He was jailed for 14 months.
Prior to entering national politics, he served in the Central Provincial Assembly for many years.
Saitala told the media that his office extended their regrets to Kemakeza on this case.
Meanwhile, according to Saitala, Kivolyn submitted his nomination to the Returning Officer of the North Vella La Vella Constituency on 19 February 2019.
“Although the nomination was accepted by the Returning Officer, Mr Kivolyn was subsequently disqualified, and his name was not printed on the ballot paper.
“Kivolyn objected to his removal from the list and at our meeting on 21 March the Electoral Commission could find no reason why his name should not be included.
“His name is now reinstated to the ballot paper.
“In fact it was an error on the part of our data officers in their data centre and we have checked on his nomination form but there was no indication that he was disqualified,” Saitala said.
The changes were made under section 30 of the Electoral Act 2018.
The final list of candidate to contest the upcoming NGE is still locked at 353.
By ANDREW FANASIA