Supreme Court dismisses election petition

Vanuatu’s Supreme Court has dismissed an election petition filed by Stephen Dorrick Felix, who stood as a Vanuatu Leaders Party candidate in Port Vila during the National Election in March.

Mr Felix, who was not elected, filed a petition in April against the Principal Electoral Officer as the first respondent and Deputy Prime Minister and Internal Affairs Minister, Ishmael Kalsakau and the Port Vila MPs –Ralph Regenvanu, Anthony Harry, Kenneth Natapei and Ulrich Sumptoh.

Mr Felix alleged that the Principal Electoral Officer had breached the rules in Schedule five of the Representation of the People Act, 1982 [ CAP.146] by allowing persons to vote without their names being on the register.

He also alleged the Principal Electoral Officer had allowed persons to vote in Port Vila when they did not reside in the constituency and had allowed persons to vote using cards belonging to persons whose names were not registered on the roll for their respective polling stations.

Mr Felix claimed the Principal Electoral Officer had breached Section 31 (2) of the act by allowing 1,978 more votes than there appeared on the electoral list which he said was 20,399.

He also alleged the Principal Electoral Officer breached Section 20 (1) and (2) of the act by not establishing an electoral list for each polling station. As a result of these breaches he said there were 1323 votes not accounted for.

Against MP Natapei, Mr Felix alleged an agent had collected over 100 electoral cards on 18 March just before the National Election, from people he claims were not registered to vote.

Mr Felix alleged MP Sumptoh was not eligible to stand as a candidate in the poll because he had outstanding debts with the Port Vila Municipality which he failed to disclose to the Electoral Office.

Judge Oliver Saksak says all six respondents denied all allegations.

Mr Regenvanu, Mr Natapei and Mr Sumptoh filed applications seeking orders that the petition be struck out. This was on the basis that there was insufficient evidence from Mr Felix to show that the 1,978 or 1,323 voters he alleged were unaccounted for, were his supporters or could have voted for him.

Judge Saksak ruled there was no evidence Mr Sumptoh had outstanding debts.

Judge Saksak ruled Mr Felix petition’s was defective and incomplete and dismissed it in its entirety.

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