Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Naturalized Vanuatu MP’s Election Win Under Scrutiny
American-born Bohn facing questions of election’s constitutionality

By Jane Joshua

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 26, 2013) – The constitutionality of the first naturalized Vanuatu citizen contesting and successfully winning a seat in the 2012 General Election has come under the scrutiny of the Supreme Court in Port Vila.

And the Court’s verdict on whether or not he was eligible to contest will set the precedent for future cases in the same vein.

American-born naturalized Vanuatu citizen MP Robert Bohn of the Vanuatu Progressive Development Party (VPDP) now has two separate cases in Court.

The first is Election Petition No.17 of 2012 in which himself and his colleague Epi-Peoples’ Progressive Party’s MP Isaac Hamariliu were challenged by their opponents who lost out in the 2012 General Elections for the two seats in the Epi constituency.

In addition a separate case, Constitutional case No.1 of 2013 has stemmed out of Election Petition No.17 of 2012.

This, said MP Bohn, involves discussion on section 23 (a) on the Representation of the Peoples Act as amended and it is hopeful that a decision may be made soon.

"Whether we win or lose on the Constitutionality question is not really an issue," said the VPDP MP.

"Because at the end of the day I was adopted. I have letters from chiefs that affirmed my adoption, I have a letter from the paramount chief of Laman island, Epi confirming my adoption and I have got family who say I was adopted.

"I think we are going to win either way whether through the Constitutional case or Election petition.

"But certainly more will be heard on the Election petition in the coming days."

Section 24 of the Representation of the People Act [CAP 146] (subject to section 23) endorses the eligibility of candidates contesting election to parliament.

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