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Election official briefs candidates on new rules

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Oct. 16, 2010) - The results of Tonga’s General Election on November 25 will be announced by the Supervisor of the election on the same evening, over 50 prospective parliamentary candidates were told in a pre-registration briefing this week.

Electoral Commissioner, Pita Vuki told them that if two or more candidates received the same number of votes for a constituency seat then the winning candidate would be selected by a toss of coin in a manner determined by the Supervisor of Elections.

A week before the registration date on October 21-22, the Supervisor of Elections Pita Vuki meeting the prospective candidates at the FWC Moulton Hall, said that they must meet some fundamental requirements to maintain the integrity of the November election.

He distributed a 2010 Candidate Information Booklet that laid out important matters such as the Election Timetable, Electoral Roll, Nominations/Registrations, Spending Limit, and Polling Day.

Pita advised candidates the Electoral Commission could only assist them by providing information on the nomination process and campaign activity.

"We cannot provide you with formal or informal legal advice therefore we advise that you should consult your own lawyers and satisfy yourselves about your own legal positions under the law so as not to encounter any misinterpretation of requirements," he said.

He said that a candidate’s spending limit is TOP10,000 [US$5,300]. In addition they must lodge their statement of expenses with the Supervisor of Election within 14 days of the Election Day.

Candidates are free to hold meetings and rally in their campaign. However, candidates are prohibited to campaign by any means for 24 hours prior to the start of the polling and during the hours of the polling.

The successful candidate in a constituency would be the one with the highest number of votes, and if there was a tied result then a toss of coin in a manner determined by the Supervisor of Elections.

Candidates were reminded that in order to be eligible to run, they must already be registered in the constituency they are nominated for.

They must provide 50 or more signatures from registered voters on the constituency they run in and provide written clearance from the Supreme Court and the Magistrate’s Court.

A registration fee of TOP400 [US$211] is required for all candidates made either in cash or bank check.

Tonga’s General Election will take place on November 25, when the people will elect 17 People Representatives and the nobles will elect nine Nobles’ Representatives. From these 26 members of parliament, a Prime Minister will be chosen by the members and not more than 12 Cabinet Ministers will be appointed.

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