The Office of the Prime Minister is keeping its silence on the impact of the ruling by the High Court on Friday, which has literarily stripped the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Robson Djokovic of his citizenship.
Djokovic, who has announced through his lawyer he would appeal the decision, faces a maximum penalty of a $50,000.00 fine, five years in jail, or both, according to section 120 of the Electoral Act 2018.
The presiding judge, Howard Lawry made four declarations in his ruling on Friday. He ruled that:
- Pursuant to section 26(1) of the Constitution of Solomon Islands 1978, the Claimant (Djokovic) is not a citizen of Solomon Islands;
- Pursuant to section 20(1) as read with section 20(6) and section 22 of the Constitution of 1978, as amended by the Constitution (Amendment (Dual Citizenship) Act 2018 the Claimant is not a citizen of Solomon Islands;
- Pursuant to the Constitution of Solomon Islands 1978 as amended by the Constitution (Amendment (Dual Citizenship) Act 2018 the Claimant does not continue to hold his Solomon Islands Citizenship despite also holding Australian citizenship; and
- Pursuant to Section 48 and 55(1) of the Constitution of 1978 as read with Section 7, 8, and 9 of the Electoral Act 2018, as amended, that the Claimant is not entitled to register as an elector and is therefore not entitled to vote in any general or by-elections.
Djokovic, whose mother is from Choiseul Province, is the President of OUR Party – the most powerful political position after the Prime Minister, Manasseh Sogavare’s.
Solomon Star spoke to some lawyers who expressed the view that both Djokovic and OUR Party “are in breach of the Political Parties Integrity Act”, which among other things, forbids foreigners from holding political offices in Solomon Islands.
“He (Djokovic) is a foreigner, thus should not be allowed to be a member of OUR Party (OP),” one lawyer said.
Others said it would be interesting to see whether he is prosecuted for illegally voting in the last general election.
The High Court ruling appears to “have thrown the spanner in the works” in terms of the urgency to realign officeholders in OUR Party. It comes at a time when the ruling government is still in the middle of its comprehensive redirection policy exercise.
Djokovic, seen as the main architect of the ruling government’s policy initiatives, will leave a huge gaping hole in the event he departs the scene.
The High Court ruling could exert a lot of pressure on Djokovic to consider whether it is worth denouncing his Australian citizenship.
His appeal will be an interesting development to watch over the next few weeks.