Appeal court upholds disqualification of Sione Tupouniua

    The appellate judges yesterday dismissed an appeal from Sione Kauate Tupouniua at the Nukuʻalofa Court of Appeal, making a disqualification order from the Election Office final and enforceable.

    The Election Office had disqualified Tupouniua from seeking the nomination to candidacy because he failed to fulfil legal requirement stipulated by Tonga’s Electoral Act Section 9(4).

    Mr Justice Hansen, Mr Justice Hon Salmon and Chief Justice Hon Scott were not convinced by the judgement made by Judge Charles Cato at the Supreme Court on November 10 upholding an appeal by Tupouniua to order the Election Office to process his nomination because he settled his debt prior to the nomination date.

    Tupouniua was able to convince Mr. Cato that he informed the Election Office about his intention to nominate while he was awaiting a judge at the Supreme Court to sign his clearance statement.

    His clearance statement was signed on October 24 but when Tupouniua arrived at the Election Office he was told the nomination had been closed.

    His counsel, Kahungungu Afeaki argued that Tupouniua has cleared his debts before the nomination closed although he was late when he arrived at the Election Office, an action he said falls within what  clause 65 of the constitution was meant to be.

    The appellate judges did not agree and clarified that section 9(4) was meant to protect candidates from falsifying or misleading the Election Office and that the Election Supervisor was right when he rejected Tupouniua’s nomination.

    The Electoral Act section 9(4) requires potential candidates to submit their nomination forms together with written clearance from the Supreme Court that they have no record of an outstanding order under clause 65 of the Constitution.

    The Election Office announced that all candidates who wanted to be nominated this year must register at its offices between the hours of 10am and 3pm on October 24.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Kuo ʻikai tali ʻe he kau fakamaau tangí e tautapa ʻa Sione Kauate Tupouniua ʻi he Fakamaauʻanga Tangi ʻi Nukuʻalofá ʻaneafi ʻo hoko ai e tuʻutuʻuní ni ke aofangatuku pea kei tuʻu pe tuʻutuʻuni fakataʻeʻaongaʻi ʻa e ʻŌfisi Faifilí.

      Naʻe hanga ʻe he ʻŌfisi Faifilí ʻo fakataʻeʻaongaʻi e feinga lēsisita ʻa Tupouniua ke hoko ko ha kanititeiti ki he filí koe’uhī ko ʻene tōnounou ke fakakakato ʻa e fiemaʻu fakalao ki ha taha ʻoku fie lēsisita kanitieti ʻo fakatatau mo e tuʻutuʻuni ʻa e Lao Fili ʻa Tongá sekisoni 9(4).

      Naʻe ʻikai tui ʻa e kau fakamaau tangí ki he tuʻutuʻuni ʻa Fakamaau Charles Cato ʻi he ʻaho 10 ʻo Nōvemá ki he ʻŌfisi Faifilí ke ne hoko atu ʻo fakakakato hano lēsisita tōmui ʻo Tupouniua ʻaki ʻa e ʻuhinga he ne ne ʻosi totongi ʻe ia ʻa hono moʻuá.

      Naʻe lava ʻe Tupouniua ʻo fakalotoa ʻa Mr Cato ʻaki e ʻuhinga ne ne ʻosi fakahā ki he ʻŌfisi Faifilí ʻene teu lēsisita kanititeiti lolotonga ʻene tatali ʻi he fakamaauʻangá ki ha fakamaau ke fakamoʻoni ʻi heʻene tohi fakamahino kuo ʻikai hano toe moʻuá.

      Naʻe lava ʻo fakamoʻoni ha fakamaau ki heʻene tohi ko ʻení ka ʻi heʻene aʻu hake ki he ʻŌfisi Faifilí kuo fakahā ange kuo ʻosi tāpuni e lēsisitá ia.

      Naʻe kikihi e fakafofonga lao ʻa Tupouniuá, Kahungungu Afeaki ʻo pehē kuo ʻosi totongi e moʻua ʻo Tupouniuá ki muʻa he ʻaho filí neongo naʻá ne tōmui he taimi ne ne aʻu ai ki he ʻŌfisí, ko ha foʻi laka ia ʻi he fakaʻuhinga ʻa Afeakí ʻoku ʻi loto pe i he fiemaʻu ʻa e kupu 65 ʻo e konisitūtoné.

      Naʻe ʻikai tui ki heni ʻa e kau fakamaau tangi ʻo nau pehē ʻe kinautolu ʻoku taumuʻa mai ʻa e lao ia ko ʻení ke ne maluʻi ʻa e kau fie lēsisita kanititeití mei hano fai ha fakamatala kākā mo takihalaʻi ʻo e ʻŌfisi Faifilí pea kuo nau aofangatuku ai naʻe tonu ʻaupito pe hono ʻikai tali ʻe he Komisiona Faifilí ia ke lēsisita ʻa Tupouniuá.

      ʻOku fiemaʻu he Lao Fili ʻa Tongá kupu 9(4) ʻa kinautolu ʻe ala hoko ko ha kanititeití ke fakahū fakataha ange ʻenau foomu lēsisita ke hoko ko ha kanititeití mo e tohi mei he fakamaauʻangá ʻo fakamahino ʻoku ʻikai hanau moʻua ke totongi.

      Ne fanongongo ʻe he ʻŌfisi Faifili ʻa Tongá ko e kau fie lēsisita kanititeiti ʻi he taʻu ní kuopau ken au lēsisita ʻi hono ngaahi ʻofisí mei he 10 pp ki he 3ef ʻo e ʻaho 24 ʻo ʻOkatopa.

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