Four-way race for Solomons Island PM job

Four former Prime Ministers re-elected in last month’s national election could lead Solomon Islands again in the next four years after the surprise loss of incumbent Gordon Darcy Lilo. The four included Synder Rini, whose term as Prime Minister lasted for less than a month in 2006. He retained his Marovo Constituency seat despite stiff competition from former Director General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Dr Jimmy Rodgers.

The three other potential PMs are Opposition Leader Dr Derek Sikua, Manasseh Sogavare and Danny Philip. They have all served as PM in the Solomon Islands, but with the Political Parties Integrity Act (PPIA) making no specific mention for large independent candidates in the 50 member house, any member could be elected PM. A total of 245 of 447 candidates contested as independents, and 32 of these got elected. The introduction of PPIA by the outgoing National Coalition for Reform and Advancement (NCRA) Government of Lilo aimed to stop ‘grass hopping’ of MPs to form a ruling government.

Despite 12 political parties being registered as required by the Political Parties Integrity Commission, a few other parties refused to be registered and challenged the validity of the PPIA in court. The legislation was contested by former Deputy Opposition Leader Matthew Wale who said it infringed upon his freedom of association under the constitution. But the court disagreed, and upheld the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission’s right to ban parties that have not registered from participating in the election. The ruling also means that, once elected, independent candidates must choose a political party if they wish to have any part in governing the country.

The Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) led by Steven Abana had the highest members with eight being elected into the house, followed by United Democratic Party (UDP) with four, People Alliance Party (PAP) with three and one each for Solomon Islands Party for Rural Advancement (SIPRA), Kadere Party of Solomon Islands (KPSI) and Solomon Islands People First Party (SIPFP).

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