24 Sep 2008

Some Solomons voters say they were denied the right to vote

10:03 am on 24 September 2008

Voting has been completed in two Solomon Islands by-elections in the presence of local and Regional Assistance Mission police.

26-candidates are standing for the Honiara seat to replace Charles Dausabea, who has been jailed for fraud, while 17 candidates are contesting the Lau/Baelelea seat in Malaita following the death of Samuel Ragosomani.

A correspondent in Honiara says though the voter turn out is believed to be much higher than the 26-percent turn out in the 2006 general election, many did not get to cast their vote.

He says a number of polling stations he visited visited reported that a good number of voters did not vote because others had voted in their name.

The situation he says was made worse because there was no election in the other two Honiara constituencies resulting in non registered voters taking advantage of the by-election.

At one polling station more than 50-voters were turned back because it was already five o'clock.

Angry voters demanded they be allowed to cast their vote because, they said, they were already in the queue well before the closing time but the election officials stood by their decision fearing a High Court ruling made in 1993.

The petition was in reference to voting being allowed to continue up to seven o'clock in the evening at a Honiara polling station because many voters were still queuing up to cast votes.

Counting in the Honiara constituency started last night and results are expected around midday today.

Counting in Lau/Baelelea is expected to begin this morning.