Six political parties suspended in Solomon Islands

Photo: ANU Open Research

Six political parties in Solomon Islands have been suspended last month over their failure to comply with requirements of the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014, reports Indepth Solomons.

That’s according to Acting Registrar of the Political Parties Commission, Glinson Galo. 

“The parties failed to comply with section 51 of the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014,” he explained. 

“Section 51. (l) The Registrar shall conduct a review of political parties listed in the Register at least 12 months before a general election is expected to take place, in order to determine the operational status of political parties.” 

The country will now go to the polls early next year, after the Sogavare Government successfully pushed for its postponement from this year.  

The suspended political parties are Youth All Urban Rural Party, National Transformation Party, Pan Melanesian Congress Party, United Democratic Party, People’s Progressive Party, and New Nation Party.  

Galo explained the suspension is for three months, and if the parties still fail to make amends, they will be deregistered.

Meanwhile, the Government has been told to review and amend the Political Parties Integrity Act 2014 ahead of next year’s national elections. 

The Political Parties Commission recommended this in a submission it presented to the Sogavare Government recently. 

Acting Political Parties Commission Registrar Glinson Galo told In-depth Solomons in an interview that several recommendations were made in the submission. 

“One of the recommendations is for the political party that wins the majority of seats during a national election to be given the right to lead the next government,” Galo said. 

He said by doing that, we can avoid the “numbers game” and political manoeuvring that normally happen in Honiara after each election. 

The other major recommendation, according to Galo, is for the removal of the Independent Group in Parliament. 

This, he said, is to prevent candidates contesting elections as independent members, and become members of a political party. 

The Political Parties Integrity Act came into force in 2014. 

It’s a law designed to govern the registration, administration and development of political parties, and promote integrity in their operations. 

But critics say the Act had fallen short of fulfilling its intended purpose – bringing political stability into the country. 

Chairman of the Political Parties Commission, Sir Francis Billy Hilly agreed. 

Sir Francis, also a former prime minister, told In-depth Solomons it’s about time to amend the Act. 

“The Act has not served its intended purpose,” he said. 

“The main purpose of the Act is to discourage grass-hopping by MPs.“

“But as you can see, there’s no integrity in it. MPs are basically free to move wherever and whenever they want.” 

Sir Francis said one of the main sections of the Act, which was designed to stop “grass-hopping”, was removed before it becomes law. 

“There needs to be a section in the Act that gives powers to voters to recall their members of parliament if they engage in grass-hopping in parliament.” 

President of the Green Party, Lawrence Makili said he remembered well back in 2008 when the Act was still in draft, there’s a particular section that stated if a member leaves his party to join another party, the MP automatically loses his or her seat. 

“This section must be included in the Act as part of any amendments,” Makili said. 

The Political Parties Commission hosted a half-day conference on Wednesday 10 May with party representatives to update them on the Political Parties Integrity Act.  The 2024 national elections is expected to be held early in the year.