Swearing-In of Malaita Ministers Unlawful
The recent swearing-in of five Malaita MPAs as Ministers of the MARA Government was unlawful.
This ceremony was explained in a letter by the Minister of Provincial Government and Insitutional Strengthening (MPGIS) Hon. Rollen Seleso to Malaita Premier Daniel Suidani on October 21 warning the Premier of the forceful and illegal action.
In the letter, Minister Seleso said the taking of Oaths administered by the Commissioner for Oaths was unlawful and a deliberated attempt by the Premier himself to disregard the application of the Provincial Government Act 1997.
According to the Act, a Minister of a Provincial Government is appointed pursuant to section 20(4) by the Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional strengthening acting in accordance with advice of the Premier.
Pursuant to section 20(4), a Minister of a Provincial Assembly can only be appointed the Hon. Minister for Provincial Government and Institutional strengthening acting in accordance with advice of the Premier.
“I as the Minister responsible have not made any appointments and in light if this situation, the five MPAs have not been appointed as Ministers and cannot be treated as Ministers,” Seleso told Suidani in the letter.
Seleso said the taking of Oaths of the five non-appointed Ministers was also conducted and administered by a Commissioner of Oaths.
The purported swearing-in was conducted in accordance with Order 8 of the Standing Orders of the Malaita Provincial Assembly.
“With due respect, no administration of oaths under the Standing Orders cannot legitimately appoint any Minister to an Office in the Executive and the above actions by yourself is a direct contravention of the Act,” Seleso told Suidani.
In light of these circumstance, the five Members of the Provincial Assembly have not been validly appointed under the Act.
“As a consequence, I will not be endorsing any appointment, nor will the appointments be gazetted,” Seleso explained.
“Further, the MPAs will not be drawing Ministerial salaries and those five Ministers should not be discharging Ministerial duties illegally,” Seleso said.
“Should the Ministers undertake Ministerial duties despite being explicitly told not to do so, I will be taking necessary actions to ensure that this illegality does not perpetuate,” Seleso warned.
It is in the public and national interest that all Provincial Assemblies and Provincial Executives comply with the provisions of the Provincial Government Act.