Election petition against PM Kilman struck outPosted: February 8, 2013
The electoral petitions made by Willie Jimmy and Daniel Molisa against the 2012 election of Prime Minister Sato Kilman have been struck out in Vanuatu’s Supreme Court this morning.
Justice Robert Spear delivered a statement on the case rather than the judgement itself to prevent inaccurate media reports. It was a packed courtroom at Dumbea Hall.
Justice Spear’s statement began by saying that the hearing on 28 and 29 January did not address whether Kilman was or was not eligible. Rather, it dealt with whether the petition could be amended to correct a mistake concerning ineligibility in the first place, and then, whether the petitioners were entitled to present their petition.
Amendment of the petition was allowed by the Court and involved the petitioners’ claims as regards Kilman’s alleged debts to government. The petition was allowed to be amended to give the correct section of the Representation of the People Act.
In regards to the standing of the petitioners, Justice Spear says “Section 55 of the Act carefully states who is entitled to present an election petition. The Court found that this restricts petitioners to those registered to vote in the election in the particular constituency to which the challenged election of an individual occurred. Alternatively, where the petitioner had also been a candidate in that particular election.”
“Neither petitioner in this case, Mr Jimmy or Mr Molisa, met those eligibility criteria prescribed by S.55 of the Act. Neither petitioner was registered to vote in Malekula constituency at the time of the 2012 general election, and neither had stood for election in that constituency. The petitions have accordingly been struck out.”
This appears to have been the first time that this Court has had to consider this particular question of eligibility to petition under Section 55. Essentially, Justice Spear’s statement means that a person’s election for Parliament can only be challenged by an election petition to the Court if that petitioner was registered to vote in the particular constituency in question for that election, or if the petitioner had stood as a candidate in that election.