INDEPENDENT candidates will still hold the balance of power in the formation of government despite the introduction of the Political Parties Integrity Act (PPIA), it was revealed.
This is because the Act allows elected Members of Parliament (MP),who is a member of a party or independent, to vote a Prime Minister during election.
As such the parliamentary system still provides room for grass hopping by elected Members of Parliament from Parties to Parties, which can give rise to ‘political instability’.
Attorney General Billy Titiulu said this Act does not stop independent candidates from forming the government if they have the number and have chosen who to represent and lead them.
He said the Act is basically a political party registration Act to formalise the parties’ existence and their integrity.
This means thegovernment of the day will still resort to giving privileges to independent members to maintain its gripon power for the next four years.
A trend that had been seen in Solomon Islands politics for past 35 years, where independents and backbenchers still have the upper-hand over the Prime Minister.
Unlike in Papua New Guinea, the Peter O’Neil government has amended the Constitution to extend the grace period to 30 months (from 18 month) after Supreme Court ruled the Organic Law on Integrity of Political Parties & Candidates (OLIGPPAC) was unconstitutional in 2010.
But before that, former Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had enjoyed political stability from 2002 to 2010 when his predecessor, Sir MekereMorauta introduced the OLIGPPAC law in 2000.
Current PM O’Neil recently announced that further legislative changes will be made to ensure political “stability”.
The proposed Constitutional amendments will: (i) require a mover of motion of no-confidence against an incumbent PM/Government give three advance months (an increase from one week), and ensure signatures of 1/3 (an increase from 1/10) of total MPs nominating an alternative PM; and (ii) reduce the minimum sitting days of Parliament from 63 to 40 days.
Solomon Islands Clerk to Parliament, Taeasi Sanga said there is no grace period given to ruling government in the Constitution.
“Under our constitution a motion of no confidence can be moved provided it meets the seven clear days notice required under the Constitution.
“This means a motion of confidence can be moved by anyone anytime within the four years term,” she said.
In PNG, some commentators believed its political instability can addressed through bi-partisan approach that could introduce radical political reforms to be passed by Parliament which would bring meaningful solution (s).
Such reforms for example, should include the reduction of the number of political parties.
This could be done without restricting democracy, for example, by lifting the bar on the registration of political parties, and/or, requiring that they contest a larger minimum number of seats.
By EDDIE OSIFELO