Statement by the Supervisor of Elections
Mr Mohammed Saneem
FEO Media Centre – 7 June 2020 – 4.30pm
Bula Vinaka Ladies and gentlemen
I would like to clarify some confusion in the media surrounding the events that led to the suspension of the Social Democratic Liberal Party. I’m here to correct the facts, and provide the public with the exact timeline that ultimately led to the decision to suspend the party. In the interests of transparency, I’d urge the media and anyone seeking to put forward an educated opinion on the matter to include this timeline in their reporting.
- On 23 April 2020, the High Court delivered a decision in Civil Action No. HBC 269 of 2019.
- The Registrar wrote to the Party Leader on 27 April 2020 to urge the Party to comply with the directives of the Court and at the same time the Register of Political Parties was amended in compliance with the Order of the Court.
- On 27 April 2020, the Party was given 30 days to comply and at the same time furnish all the necessary documents as required by the law.
- On 23 May 2020, there were 2 separate meetings of the SODELPA (in suspension) both claiming to be the legitimate Board Meetings. Both meeting organizers disputed the other meeting claiming lack of compliance with the Party Constitution.
- On 25 May 2020, the first ‘Application to Substitute the Name of Registered Officer under section 11’ was filed with a List of Office Holders of the Suspended Party, which was disputed by Hon. Adi Litia Qionibaravi at 4:30pm the same day.
- Later, on 25 May 2020, Hon. Adi Litia Qionibaravi submitted another ‘Application to Substitute the Name of Registered Officer under section 11’ was filed with a list of Office Holders of the Suspended Party.
- On 26 May 2020, having found that there are various irregularities in the documents submitted such as lack of exact office holders within the Management Board of the Party, there being different versions of the Constitution of the Party, failure by the Officials to comply with the rules of the Party as explained in the decision I gave that day, the Party had to be suspended to ensure that it remedied the deficiencies.
- The Suspended Party is currently in the process of remedying the defects.
Clearly, SODELPA (in suspension) was provided ample time, from the 27th of April, to comply with the decision of the court and furnish the necessary documents. However, they failed to do so. In the weeks that followed, it became clear the party was not in any position to take appropriate remedial action, as was well-documented by the media, leaving my office with no choice but to suspend the party. SODLEPA (in suspension) now has until the 27th of July to remedy their failures.
This timeline of events had been noted in my Media Statement on 26 May and there has been no dispute to the contrary. Given the considerable length of time provided to the Party to take corrective action, and the seriousness of their failures, it is simply not honest to paint this decision as abrupt or without precedent.
In fact, in arriving at my decision on 26 May 2020 I had clearly mentioned that:
“In National Federation Party v Supervisor of Elections, HBM 28 of 2016, the High Court in paragraph 18 held that the Registrar could simply notify the Party of the breach and require it to rectify it even though the law allowed the Registrar to suspend the Party. In compliance with the same, in this case, there was a 30-day timeframe given to SODELPA. This suspension action is taken following that period. In this case, the Party has not been able to resolve its issues and remedy the breach. The situation has worsened in fact.”
At this time it is important to ensure that the Party is allowed to rectify the breaches so that it may return to functioning under the law.
In a well-functioning democracy, strong institutions are empowered to respond appropriately and independently in enforcing their mandate. In this instance, the FEO acted in accordance with the law and past precedent, and took measures that matched the seriousness of the offence. We gave the suspended SODELPA every opportunity to “fix up their irregularities”, until “drastic measures” against them became absolutely necessary.