The Election Petition (EP) case against Member of Parliament (MP) Assang Sanick of the Malekula Constituency is set to be heard today, Friday, 21st of April, 2023.

After the snap election on October 13th, 2022, Vanua’aku Pati (VP) candidates Chief Vinbel Kerry and former Director General to the Prime Minister’s office, Gregoire Nimbtik had filed an EP against MP Sanick as the First Defendant and the Electoral Commission as the Second Defendant.

In their application, the two petitioners claimed that MP Sanick should not have contested the snap election in Malekula as he was convicted and given a suspended sentence for two years.

They further stated that MP Sanick’s endorsement by the Electoral Commission to contest the election impacted the results of the election in Malekula.

The petitioners also claimed that MP Sanick provided false information to the Electoral Commission by ticking “no” instead of “yes” to the question on the electoral form regarding his conviction and suspended sentence.

In a recent appeal case in February regarding Justice Oliver Saksak’s decision not to disqualify himself from presiding over the EP case, MP Sanick’s lawyer conceded that his client pleaded guilty on August 11, 2021, to two charges of domestic violence and one count of the Leadership Code. MP Sanick’s lawyer also acknowledged that the two-year suspended sentence would lapse on August 11, 2023, and that he should not have contested the snap election.

While the Court of Appeal granted the application for disqualification, it denied the request for a rehearing for the strike-out application, which was dismissed by Justice Saksak in December 2022. The hearing of the EP case was delayed due to the devastation caused by Category 4 cyclones Judy and Kevin in early March.

The full hearing for the EP will now be heard at 9am this Friday by a different judge.