THE Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Jasper Anisi, has cleared the air surrounding the confusion by some West Kwara’ae Constituency voters on the eligibility of a sitting Member of the Provincial Assembly (MPA) to contest the constituency’s bye-election next week.
A sitting MPA in the Malaita Provincial Government (MPG), Iven Tonafalea, is one of the candidates in the West Kwara’ae bye-election.
MPA Tonafalea, who is the current MPA for Ward 4, did not tender his resignation to contest the bye-election, raising eyebrows about the legality of his action.
But when Mr Anisi was asked explain the eligibility of Mr Tonafalea’s candidacy due to his non-resignation as a sitting MPA, the CEO said there is nothing wrong.
He said Mr Tonafalea is eligible to contest.
Mr Anisi said MPA Tonafalea is not a Public Officer and hence is not covered by the General Standing Orders which requires Public Officers to resign before contesting an election.
He further explained that MPA Tonafalea will only resign if he won the election because the law does not allow an MP to serve as an MPA at the same time.
Mr Anisi said if MPA Tonafalea does not win the bye-election, he will retain his seat as MPA for Ward 4.
He went on to explain that according to the National Constitution, if a Solomon Islands citizen is 21 years and has sound mind, then she/he is eligible to contest in an election.
Mr Anisi further explained that citizens with dual citizenships are ineligible to contest an election but are eligible to vote.
By WILSON SAENI in Auki