Labour takes Supervisor of Elections to court

Labour Party’s case against the Supervisor of Election’s failure to comply with the Electoral Act with regard to the 2006 general elections, will be heard on Tuesday 28 March.

The case comes up for mention before Justice Roger Coventry on Tuesday and names the Electoral Commission as the second defendant.

Opposition Leader Mahendra Chaudhry said that the court proceedings were filed as a result of the failure of the Supervisor of Elections and the Electoral Commission to adhere to the mandatory provisions of the Act in the conduct and processes relating to the 2006 general elections.

FLP believes the Supervisor and the Commission need to comply with the mandatory provisions of the Act to:

  •  first publish the Main Rolls for each constituency as mandated by the Act
  •  then allow the maximum allowable time for the objection and settlement of objections
  •  and then to publish the finalized rolls from which Nomination of Candidates, Objections to nomination, Petitions of Support and Preferences could then be finalized.

“My office had written to the SOE/ EC on 22 separate occasions, from October 2005 – 15th March 2006, on this issue, seeking clarification and assurances that the election processes would be in compliance with the Act.

Neither the Supervisor of Elections nor the Electoral Commission has been able to provide those assurances, “ Mr. Chaudhry said.

Labour’s major concerns are:

  •  Huge anomalies in the house to house registrations
  •  numerous errors with respect to registration slips
  •  non allocation of constituencies or wrongly assigned constituencies to many persons who had applied to be registered as voters.

“Clearly, the SOE is making rules to elections as he goes along, without adhering to the Act. As a result of the failure of his office to comply with the mandatory provisions of the Act for the last 5 years, we have this mess with the elections process – where thousands of voters stand to lose their constitutional right to vote due to the inaptitude of the office of the SOE to ensure that voters are correctly registered in the communal and open constituencies.

“Many thousands of voters still remain unregistered on the ‘Provisional’ Rolls despite having valid registration slips, voters have been assigned incorrect constituencies and voter registration form details do not correlate with the details in the ‘Provisional’ Rolls hence rendering these voters ineligible to vote,” said Mr. Chaudhry.

Mr. Chaudhry said that the belligerent actions of the SOE was an affront to the notion off free and fair elections and that he would be writing to the Constitutional Offices Commission with respect to the conduct of the SOE in the elections processes.

“Mr. Semesa Karavaki should stop trying to play the media darling and get on the serious task of ensuring that his office performed its duties in accordance with the Act,” said Mr. Chaudhry.

Since the writ was filed last week, Supervisor of Elections Semesa Karavaki has hastened to make two changes to the electoral process in order to comply with the Act before the case comes up.

He has since extended the date for the filing of preferences to comply with the full 7-day requirement. He also announced the date for the closing of the main rolls.

Main rolls closed on 24 March and go for printing from 25 March. Registration of voters will ,however, proceed until 4 April when the rolls will definitely close. All those who register between 25 March and 4 April will have their names appear on a supplementary roll.

Meanwhile, once the main rolls are released, the Elections office will entertain objections. These will be addressed until the day before the polling begins on 6 May.

All objections not attended to by then will be ignored, Karavaki said.