The declaration of the vacant parliamentary seat of former Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai by Speaker of Parliament, MP Gracia Shadrack has automatically warranted a by-election for Pentecost Constituency.
But Principal Electoral Officer Joe Iati, said the by-election decision will be made after the Appeal Court’s ruling on Salwai’s case which will be heard on May 5, 2021.
Yesterday morning during the First Extraordinary Session of Parliament, Speaker Shadrack made the announcement in accordance to the Members of Parliament (Vacation of Seats) Act [CAP 174] which states, “If a member of parliament is sentenced by a court to imprisonment of a term of not less than 2 years, he shall forthwith cease to perform his functions as a member of Parliament and his seat shall become vacant at the expiration of 30 days thereafter.”
Prior to the announcement, Shadrack advised Salwai not to attend any sittings.
On April 16, 2021, Daniel Yawha of Yawha Associates who acts for Mr. Salwai, wrote to the Speaker and sought advice on his status as a MP. In the letter Yawha reminded the Speaker of Salwai’s suspended sentence.
“We confirm we have appealed that sentence on the premise that it is too excessive,” he stated.
“Given his Constitutional right to appeal, we are instructed to request your discretion to extend any days period he can be accorded under members of Parliament (Vacation of Seats) Act for a time not exceeding 150 days as required under Section 3 (1) of the Act.
“Between 3rd February, 2021 and 20th April 2021, only 50 days would have been consumed and 100 days can still be avail to our client to remain as a Member of Parliament while he argues his appeal.”
In response, MP Shadrack replied to the former PM on April 19 stating that Salwai would not be permitted to attend the 2021 Parliament First Extraordinary Session from April 20th onwards, at the Parliament Chambers.
Salwai’s appeal will be heard before the courts on May 5.
Yesterday, parliament convened as there was quorum. But PM Bob Loughman sought an adjournment citing several reasons, one being some MPs were not able to attend the sitting as they are currently in their constituencies, due to the travel restrictions.
Although they are in support of the adjournment, Leader of Opposition, MP Ralph Regenvanu said they are yet to receive the written motions which were to be debated in parliament, and this includes the Indemnity motion.
Parliament has been adjourned to Thursday.