21 Aug 2017

Legitimacy of Tuvalu by-election questioned

12:27 pm on 21 August 2017

The legitimacy of a recent by-election in Tuvalu is being disputed, with some opposition MPs saying it should never have happened.

Isaia Vaipuna Taape was last week sworn in as one of two MPs for Vaitapu, which was held by former prime minister Apisai Ielemia.

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Apisai Ielemia Photo: AFP

Mr Ielemia was last year convicted of corruption, but that was later quashed.

Despite this, the Chief Justice, Charles Sweeney, has blocked him from returning to parliament.

Mr Ielemia says he is still an MP and the Speaker of Parliament has allowed him to challenge Mr Sweeney's decision in the Court of Appeal, which will sit in Auckland next month.

Despite the impending challenge, the by-election on Vaitapu was held anyway, and Mr Taape - an ally of prime minister Enele Sopoaga - was elected and sworn in last week.

But now, there appears to be three MPs representing a constituency that should have two, and each side is claiming the other's representative as illegitimate.

The government is yet to respond to requests for comment.

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