Solomon Islands’ Political Party Integrity Bill Reconsidered

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Solomon Islands’ Political Party Integrity Bill Reconsidered Legislation committee chair says bill inconsistent with constitution

By Elliot Dawea

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, August 2, 2013) – A bill design to ensure political stability in the Solomon Islands has been referred back to the Attorney General’s Chamber for reconsideration.

Chairman of Bills and Legislation Committee Manasseh Sogavare said they sent the Political Party Integrity Bill back because it is inconsistent with the Constitution.

Mr. Sogavare said his committee cannot allow the bill to go before parliament in its current form.

He said the Government needs to bring in a Constitutional Amendment Bill first before it could introduce the political parties bill in parliament.

"We have sent the bill back to the AG Chamber to look at the clauses that are inconsistent with the Constitution," he said.

"For example, section (2) of the constitution stipulates that ‘this Constitution is the supreme law of Solomon Islands and if any other law is inconsistent with this Constitution, that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void’.

"It was on that basis that we referred the bill back because it is inconsistent with the national constitution," he said.

Mr. Sogavare added that a clear clause in the party bill that contradicts the constitution is after a general election, the leader of a political party will be nominated as prime minister.

But in the national constitution schedule (2), it said the Governor General shall convene a meeting of members for the purpose of electing a Prime Minister by issuing to each member a notice.

He said the bill was also ill-conceived because it never focuses on addressing political instability, but rather on strengthening of political parties only.

Mr. Sogavare said the bill must be amended before his committee could conduct public hearings into it.

"My committee will engage local academics and other stakeholders in the hearings before we could recommend it to parliament," he said.

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