Solomon Islands’ pro-Beijing prime minister wins reelection to parliament

The Chief Electoral Officer said vote counting could be completed by the middle of next week.
Stephen Wright
Honiara, Solomon Islands
Solomon Islands’ pro-Beijing prime minister wins reelection to parliament Solomon Islands’ Chief Electoral Officer Jasper Anisi [right] and a sign language interpreter announce election results, Honiara, April 20, 2024.
[Stephen Wright/BenarNews]

The Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare held on to his parliamentary seat in national elections, official results Saturday showed, giving the pro-Beijing leader a shot at a consecutive term.

In the first-past-the-post race, Sogavare got 49% of votes in his constituency on the island of Choiseul, according to figures released by Chief Electoral Office Jasper Anisi. Sogavare’s main rival got 42% in the election that was held on Wednesday.

Members of parliament choose the prime minister so leadership of the country may not be known until next month.

Whether Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare will stay in power is also being keenly watched by governments across the world – from China to Australia to the United States.

Wednesday’s election was the first since the combative leader switched diplomatic recognition to China from Taiwan in 2019, signed a secret security pact with the Asian superpower and allowed members of its police force into the country.

Election workers prepare to tally ballots at a counting center in the Solomon Islands’ capital Honiara, April 18, 2024. [Stephen Wright/BenarNews]

Only about 13% of votes in the national election have been tallied so far but the count is on track to be substantially completed by the middle of next week, said Anisi, the election official.

Going into the election, many voters in the Pacific island country of 700,000 people were concerned about the incumbent government’s inability to provide basic services. They were also struggling to earn enough to survive.

“There was calm and peace experienced at all counting centers across the country,” Anisi said at a press conference. “While we look forward to receiving final results early, this must not be done at the expense of transparency, accuracy and attention to details.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken congratulated Solomon Islanders, and the nation’s police and Electoral Commission for “successfully executing an orderly and efficient election day.”

Washington, Blinken said in a statement, “stands ready to continue its close collaboration with Solomon Islands’ elected leaders, and people.”

Hundreds of police and troops from neighbors Australia, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand provided security for this week’s national and provincial elections, which were also monitored by nearly 400 independent observers.

Early results from the provincial election showed that a staunch China critic, Daniel Suidani, was elected to the assembly of the country’s most populous province, Malaita.

Suidani was ousted as Malaita’s premier in a no-confidence vote in February last year after blocking Chinese projects from the province and opposing diplomatic recognition of China. Martin Fini, the politician who replaced Suidani, was not reelected.


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