It’s PM Hou, but Sogavare stays

2003 Islands Business Magazine’s ‘Pacific Man of the Year’ Rick Hou has taken the helm as the new Prime Minister of Solomon Islands with barely a year to go before the next election is due in early 2019.

He replaced incumbent Manasseh Sogavare following a successful vote of no confidence against the former Prime Minister on November 6. Now officially known by his extended surname of Houenipwela, the newcomer to the hottest seat of Solomon Islands politics won after polling 33 votes over Opposition candidate John Moffat Fugui who collected 16 votes. One vote was invalid. Just a week before he became the country’s 17th Prime Minister, Houenipwela was in the Opposition side of the House and among 27 Members of Parliament who voted to unseat Sogavare off the prime ministership’s position.

Sogavare however remained as caretaker PM of his Democratic Coalition for Change (DCC) Government until a new leader was to be elected on November 15. However as unpredictable as Solomon’s politics can be, Houenipwela and his colleagues in the Democratic Alliance Party (DAP) crossed over to join the caretaker government almost immediately after Sogavare was voted out.

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