Australia offers to fund Solomon Islands elections

Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare

But Solomon Islands PM says timing is inappropriate

Australia has made an offer to fund Solomon Islands National General Elections.

Foreign Minister Penny Wong told the ABC that the offer reflects commitment to supporting democracy and the democratic processes in Solomon Islands.

“We have made an offer for assistance and it’s a matter for Solomon Islands as to whether they will respond and how they will respond.

However the government says the timing of  Wong’s announcement was inappropriate.

Australia’s offer for assistance came as the National Parliament of Solomon Islands Bills and Legislations Committee (BLC) gave the public two weeks to respond to the Democratic Coalition Government for Advancement (DCGA) proposal to extend the life of parliament by one year.

The DCGA is seeking a one-off deferral of elections to allow the country to host the 2023 Pacific Games, which, also coincides with the national election year.

In a statement yesterday, the Solomon Islands Government said it acknowledges and appreciate the offer, however, its announcement came at a time when a bill to defer the elections for a period of 7 months is now before the National Parliament of Solomon Islands for deliberation. 

“The timing of the public media announcement by the Australian Government is in effect a strategy to influence how Members of Parliament will vote on this Bill during the second reading on Thursday 8th September 2022. This is an assault on our parliamentary democracy and is a direct interference by a foreign government into our domestic affairs,” the statement said. 

Meanwhile Chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee Peter Kenilorea Junior has slammed the Prime Minister’s response to Australia’s offer.

In a statement , the Opposition MP said the response by the Prime Minister in an official statement from his office only proved the Prime Minister’s real ambition; to simply hold on to power.

Kenilorea said Australia has done nothing wrong by making this generous offer. 

He said in fact they have been helping with our country’s elections in the past.