Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Alert levels high in Honiara after Rasta's sentencing and imprisonment...

Alert levels are high in Honiara after supporters of jailed Jimmy 'Rasta' Lusibaea threatened to loot and burn down Honiara.

This situation developed after Mr. Lusibaea was sentenced for 2 years and 9 months by the Court for crimes he had committed on the 1st September 2000 when he was accussed of wounding Robert Solo and assaulting Police Officer Sam Manakeha at the National Referral Hosiptal premises.

In the recent August 2010 national general elections, Mr. Lusibaea was elected into Parliament in a landslide victory over the former MP. Enele Kwanairara. He was then appointed as Minister for Fisheries by Prime Minister Danny Philip.

According to section 51.-(1) of the Constitution of Solomon Islands: "Subject to the provisions of this section, if a member of Parliament is sentenced by a court in any part of the world to death or to imprisonment (by whatever name called) for a term of, or exceeding, six months, including a suspended sentence, he shall forthwith cease to perform his functions as a member of Parliament, and his seat in Parliament shall become vacant at the expiration of a period of thirty days thereafter..."

With his sentencing exceeding the 6 months mark, Mr. Lusibaea now loses his seat and will be required to serve his time in jail unless an appeal is submitted by his lawyer to the courts accordingly. His earlier guilty plea however may weaken any chances of a successful appeal if the option is taken at all.

With Mr. Lusibaea's sentencing the number game between the government and the opposition is now very well alive and hot again. In addition, with rumours of in-fighting in the government rife, it would not be a surprise if a vote of no confidence is moved on the Prime Minister when Parliament sits again on March 2011.

Three by-elections are due to be held in the next year and with a number of election petitions pending before the courts, tax payers stand to pay millions of dollars to ensure the survival of democracy on the islands.

According to the media reports, Mr. Lusibaea's case was long pending in the High Court and I also understand that similarly other election cases currently before the courts, such as the case against Mark Kemakeza are related to issues known prior to the elections in August 2010. However it has taken the courts so long to deal with these cases and the result as we see now is a loss of millions of tax payers money; money that should be spent on infrasctructure and other services that would directly benefit the people in the long run.

Tax payers are shouldering the costs of running the democracy of Solomon Islands; costs, that in my opinion would have been avoided should a proper, suitable and updated system is in place to address them.  As people are becoming more aware and legally-conscious situations on this sort will only increase in the future and we cannot allow this to happen. We cannot afford to keep on shouldering these increasing costs which could be avoided through proper goverment action and responsible governance.

The Electoral Act needs reviewing and amendment. The Constitution also needs some tweaking. And these can only be done if our politicians put their heads together and work for the common good of Solomon Islanders; not that of their cronnies, families or themselves and their greed, ego and ambitions.

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