Most of the Members of Parliament (MPs) want Clause 67 in the Electoral Bill 2018 to be amended considering the cultural sensitivity of this particular clause.
Clause 67 (3) stated that if a candidate dies after the end of the nomination period and before the polling day the Electoral Commission must request the Governor General to cancel the election and appoint a new election date for the constituency.
The argument by some MPs was against the idea that an election must continue despite the death as argued by the Member of Parliament for Aoke/Langalanga Mathew Wale.
Mr Wale said that an election should proceed regardless of the death of an intending candidate.
“Perhaps in the event that the dead candidate was standing under a party, that party should be allowed to endorse another of the remaining candidates, but must not affect the polling date,” Mr Wale said.
He further argued that it is unfair on the rest of the constituency and the other candidates who will have to repeat the effort and expenditure of campaigning if the election is canceled and a re-run later.
“And the two combined expenditure from the two elections will mostly likely exceed the expense limit,” Mr Wale added.
However opposition leader and member of parliament for East Malaita Manasseh Maelanga disputed Mr Wale’s idea when he was contributing to the bill yesterday.
“We all have cultures and traditions in this country and must be respected in whatever circumstances in relation to this clause 63 (3).
“A death in any community or village is always respected we cannot just go on with whatever we want if such circumstance arise during the election period,” Mr Manasseh argued.
Minister for health and medical services and MP for Renbel Dr Kaitu’u Angikimua also made the same sentiment in support to the opposition leader.
“Our culture is still to be observed when it comes to situations like this,” Dr Angikimua said in the parliament yesterday.
“We have to respect the candidate’s family and also his supporters so the commission must allow ample time for the people to mourn before a new date is set for them to cast their votes,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Bill 2018 debate yesterday received an overwhelming support from both side of the house including the independent side of the house.
By ANDREW FANASIA